Title page for ETD etd-10197-153229

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Buss, Robert Q. Jr.
Author's Email Address rbuss@vt.edu
URN etd-10197-153229
Title Monumental Ephemerality
Degree Master of Architecture
Department Architecture
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Green, William R. Committee Chair
Cortes, Mario C. Committee Member
Galloway, William U. Committee Member
  • light
  • portable
  • construction
  • demountable
  • exhibition structure
Date of Defense 1997-09-05
Availability unrestricted
This thesis completes the process of making architecture. It is a small project designed and built full scale. The act of realizing this work of architecture offered opportunities and limitations that do not exist within the confines of a desk project but, I believe, ultimately produced a stronger project. This is a piece of micro-architecture.

In order to create a project that is realizable for a thesis, I chose a small program: to design an exhibition structure that could be used outdoors to display and sell handmade items such as pottery. Since the use is temporary, the structure is designed to be portable, thus the assembly and disassembly of the building becomes a significant influence on the design. Beyond budget, weight and volume of the collapsed structure were significant design constraints.

This thesis is not just an exploration of tectonics. A great deal of effort was spent to ensure that the inside of the structure is still perceived as an outside space even though it provides protection from the weather and the activities of the street. A membrane keeps the water out while letting the light in; it blocks vision while transmitting shadow, and, while screening large areas from view, it reveals glimpses of people, activities, and the sky beyond.

The lightweight aluminum structural frame visually dissappears. The fabric roof and side panels provide the main visual mass for the building and they are perceived mainly through the quality of light that they transmit and reflect. One looks at a structure but sees only its ephemerality.

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