— A Wall That Isn’t One

Spring 2021, Harvard GSD, Instructor: Sharon Johnston

“A Wall that Isn’t One,” positions the wall, and the punctures within it, as a critical architectural tool for framing civic space that can be restorative, inviting, and exploratory. The wall is opened by three window types: a brise-soleil, borrowed from Le Corbusier’s Carpenter Center, a vertical window, and a horizontal window. The building mass is punctured by three anomalous courtyards of various proportions and uses. Axial entries connect visually and spatially between the courtyards, Lynwood Park, Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. At the civic scale, the wall varies along the site as a mediator between the threshold of city and park, as each facade offers a different response to its civic adjacencies. Along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, the building is low, long, and mostly opaque. A long ramp breaks the figure of the wall along this city edge, revealing its civic nature. This ramp connects to the roofscape of the building, a fully occupiable series of patios and gardens that allow for looking out to the park, and looking within the building, among the courtyard spaces below. Along the park side the building is porous and transparent—the wall becomes a screen dissolving the boundaries between interior and exterior. A generous building of discovery that provides a second home for the Lynwood community, this project positions the body between the grounding nature of its gardens and the framing of views, inwards, outwards, and upwards, through its spatial qualities and displays of light.