Let’s Negotiate




Axon [Converted].ai








Perspective_Fish Tank.ai












Let’s Negotiate

Robert Guertin





“Let’s Negotiate! A diaphanous spatial condition, exploiting concepts of: super use, building codes as well as what we refer to as the “back of house” space. These are all active agents in what we constitute as infrastructural interventions, ultimately creating a commentary on how we perceive architectural typologies by placing a critique on Architectural thoughts of representation as well as to challenge the notion of appropriate response in regards to building codes.

This thesis is situated in downtown Chicago, in an alley off of one of the most dense and populated intersections within the loop. The existing conditions of this alley are, well, as one would expect. We begin to formulate an understanding that these conditions, while not ideal, are part of the syntax of alleyway/back of house zones. From there, we start to question whether we can use this existing infrastructure to facilitate or “lift the veil” on the architectural process. Before any notion of intervention takes place we must understand the taxonomy of the back of house space. That being 1. Exterior Egress Stair 2. Balcony 3. Accessibility Ramp 4. Hvac and 5. Masonry wall. With all of these components in such a small proximity, it is evident they begin to behave as a system. Each taking on a personality and a purpose.

 Now, let’s inference and project these taxonomies onto a new canvas, “The Architectural Cliché”. Through doing this we create a new set of “Actors” to play their role in the new theatrical performance. Again, keeping in mind the main script that makes all of this possible is the building codes and the taxonomies that are birthed from their respective creators. These Actors spawned from a study of a “system narrative”. That while each programmatic element may seem foreign, depends on each other and inherently the user to operate. Those elements being “Hanging garden, biomass deposit, krill filtration tank, Japanese Soaking tub, aquarium and a sushi vendor. (show system movement)! Gaining an understanding that these new components behave as an engagement for the users, it leads to a suspension of disbelief, that while these new actors are necessary to close the gap in the plot, the possibility of aggregation amongst a given space are essentially infinite.

The underlying design for this operation was a product of building code manipulation. The ideology that we may be able to “negotiate” on a code by code basis. (IE. ramp to lift, resting on balcony railings, not below 18′ drive lane) the notion that rules are not necessarily meant to be broken, but certainly taken with a grain of salt. “


Who influences you graphically?

Graphically speaking, my largest influences fall along the spectrum of Jiminez Lai, Hugh Ferris as well as some contemporary Japanese architects. Mainly Sou Fujimoto and Atelier Bow Wow due to their pure representation.

You chose very inclusive means of representation, in term of perspectival views. What is your take on the classic, plan, section and elevation in representing your proposal?

It was pertinent to my design, in this case, to challenge the traditional method of representation in order to facilitate a new conversation within how we view our work. The choice to have a plan perspective versus a plan, eliminates the need to have two plans. The perspectives were taken at parts which portrayed the “actors” or components of my project in an evocative manner. The decision was also made that every drawing was at a size of 12 x 16.

What induced your choice of palette?

The palette, is one of those with great power comes great responsibility scenarios. Having worked with Sou Fujimoto last year I gained an understanding of purity in all aspects of architecture. The use of white has the affect of neutrality and cleanliness, which played a beautiful contrast within my site (a rather dirty alley).

Whilst some of these new elements add colour to the drawings as in the case of the hanging garden, others as the aquarium/krill are represented in a similar way to the figures, why so?

These new “actors” that I injected within the stage of my thesis are painted with textures. The voice that I had in doing so, alleviated the need to add any more colours to the theatrical aspect of my thesis. By adding textures, these architectural pieces were looked at and critiqued based on form alone an not as if they were perfectly represented as a real material. This adds to the suspension of disbelief.

How effective is the axonometric in exposing the dialogue between the actors of the back of house space?

The axonometric drawing is a great tool for me to maximize surface area within a drawing. As the site is in a deep alley, I can use this viewpoint to really express the elements and importance that the existing back of house played to my intervention.


“Robert Guertin has just completed his seventh and final year in a Masters of Architecture from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. His time abroad visiting countries as Japan, Thailand and Canada has allowed him to develop a new found sensitivity for architecture and design. During this endeavor, learning local culture and beginning to understand the new urban fabric brought to light a new interest. Methodology in story telling and representation play a crucial role in how architecture is perceived by the viewer. Stemming from an independent study with Rome Prize winner Dr. Tao Sule DuFour, reinforced with the work ethic under architect Sou Fujimoto he understands the adaptability that architecture projects. It is not so much built architecture that is alluring to him but the rhetoric and concepts behind poetically thought out projects.”



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