Title page for ETD etd-02262008-011215

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Shah, Nishant Mayur
Author's Email Address nshah81@vt.edu
URN etd-02262008-011215
Title Watson's Hotel: Celebrating the cast iron frame
Degree Master of Architecture
Department Architecture
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Galloway, William U. Committee Chair
Gartner, Howard Scott Committee Member
Jones, James R. Committee Member
  • geometry
  • material
  • light
  • grid
Date of Defense 2008-02-04
Availability unrestricted
It is in human nature to preserve things and objects from the past, study, enjoy and cherish our history. This need to learn from and cherish the objects from the past has resulted in the development and evolution of spaces such as museums where people can come and see these objects, either to know or learn something or out of personal interest and curiosity.

Somewhere in all this, is architecture from the past taken for granted? A lot of the prominent historic buildings have been well preserved and are known to people. But at the same time there are numerous historic structures, story tellers from the past, being ignored and even trampled upon. Should we not look at these also as valuable objects that have to say so much about our social, cultural and technological past? Do they need a museum space as well? Can architecture be housed and preserved in a museum? Or maybe become a museum, displaying itself, allowing people to experience it from outside and within.

Watson’s Hotel is one such historical building that lies today unnoticed, uncared for, decaying and falling apart.

My thesis is an intervention into this urban situation. The goal of the design has not been just preservation but rather an elevation or celebration of the structure, bringing forth its true nature that lies in its structural framework, a cast iron grid of columns and beams. It aims to highlight this essential core of the building by revealing the grid in different spatial conditions. There is also a constant wish to tie the structure back to its surroundings, to bring back the dialogue that the building shared with its surroundings in the past. The structural framework is revealed and experienced in different spatial conditions achieved with the help of geometry, light and material, surfaces added in and around it, and the grid runs through all these elements bold, undisturbed and uninterrupted.

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