The Thompson Center Is a Greenhouse
From the fourth-year undergraduate option studio Fill in the Blank, Fall 2018
Faculty: Stewart Hicks
About the studio:
This studio explored possibilities for the interior atrium of the Helmut Jahn–designed Thompson Center, built in 1985. The space—72 feet in diameter and 16 stories tall—is an empty receptacle in more ways than one. The building and this monumental space were the subject of ire and ridicule even before construction. We aimed to write a new narrative for the Thompson Center by imagining options for occupying the atrium in new and unexpected ways, using narrative fiction as a means to guide the conversation of local disagreements about demolition and preservation. We investigated the potentials of nested objects for architectural form making, and strategies of interior decor to transform the space with intention.
About the project:
Early issues with the air conditioning system, coupled with the value engineered glass envelope, earned the Thompson Center the nickname “Greenhouse.” I propose to literalize this nickname by making the Thompson Center even more greenhouse-like with a celestial body elevated six stories above ground level as a visual spectacle. The intervention offers a new world, a floating globe of green life that engulfs the floors slabs to encourage unexpected behaviors between person and world. The globe is composed of a grid scaffolding encapsulated by a space frame which hangs off the existing elevator cores. The interaction between body and building is a friendly one, with grass caressing the slabs.