Title page for ETD etd-01062005-163336

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Carstoiu, Benjamin Jean
Author's Email Address ben@hgaarch.com
URN etd-01062005-163336
Title Material Fluidity Sense - Will - Form Alexandria, Virginia Maritime Museum
Degree Master of Architecture
Department Architecture
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Holt, Jaan Committee Chair
Emmons, Paul F. Committee Member
Piedmont-Palladino, Susan C. Committee Member
  • Flexible
  • Adaptable
  • Water
  • Structure
  • Architecture
Date of Defense 2004-06-03
Availability unrestricted
The goal of my thesis was to produce a building that lives in the spirit of water -

a universal substance that senses and responds to the will of the environment around it. Similar to water, the maritime museum adapts its form to external forces while borrowing and redistributing energy throughout an internal cohesive structure. The building serves as an instrument of measurement, etching the pattern of the tides in the night sky and measuring its own shifting form in relation to the moon - its form, constantly reformulates itself, and is analogous to the ebb and flow of progress in history of maritime navigation.

Located on North Union Street in Alexandria, Virginia, the building is anchored to the edge of the Potomac, taking full advantage of the endless source of energy that the river provides. The building's form derives itself from the interaction between structure and water. It borrows from the paradoxical behavior of water: the tendency to alternate between platonic spherical forms which occur through internal forces and the unraveling of the sphere in response to gravitational external forces applied to it.

The building's circular lighthouse on the northern end serves as a symbolic focal point as well as a central repository for the energy gathered by its two wings. The east wing closest to the water unravels in response to the 4 foot rise and drop of the tides, and borrows that energy to continually recreate an architecture in the image of itself. The west wing of the enclosed portion of the museum serves as a barrier and helps contain the water that is to be released through the lighthouse.

The lighthouse also forms a symbolic focal point for the city where light for navigation towards the waterfront, provides a point for people, boats and water to come together. During low tide, a gush of water is released through the lighthouse's inner vortex, as a waterwheel harnesses the lunar energy it is released as a single beam of a light into the sky with surplus energy stored for future use. The interplay between static form and dynamic form creates a building that is both anchored to earth and free to react to the spirit of the movement of the water.

  Filename       Size       Approximate Download Time (Hours:Minutes:Seconds) 
 28.8 Modem   56K Modem   ISDN (64 Kb)   ISDN (128 Kb)   Higher-speed Access 
  01_Opening_Pages.pdf 4.54 Mb 00:21:00 00:10:48 00:09:27 00:04:43 00:00:24
  02_Site&Meaning.pdf 2.31 Mb 00:10:41 00:05:29 00:04:48 00:02:24 00:00:12
  03_Water&Structure.pdf 5.17 Mb 00:23:56 00:12:18 00:10:46 00:05:23 00:00:27
  04_Water&Spirit.pdf 4.74 Mb 00:21:56 00:11:16 00:09:52 00:04:56 00:00:25
  05_Initial_Studies.pdf 7.50 Mb 00:34:44 00:17:51 00:15:37 00:07:48 00:00:40
  06_Structure&Movement.pdf 9.70 Mb 00:44:55 00:23:06 00:20:13 00:10:06 00:00:51
  07_Final_Drawings.pdf 13.57 Mb 01:02:48 00:32:18 00:28:15 00:14:07 00:01:12
  08_Closing_Pages.pdf 2.87 Mb 00:13:18 00:06:50 00:05:59 00:02:59 00:00:15
  Lunar_Power_1.avi 29.17 Mb 02:15:02 01:09:27 01:00:46 00:30:23 00:02:35
  Lunar_Power_2.avi 9.02 Mb 00:41:44 00:21:27 00:18:46 00:09:23 00:00:48

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