So much of architecture seems to be placing boxes on boxes (not to dimmish the love of a good box!).* But for this project, I sought out more curvaceous spaces. I was curious if the swooshing surfaces would cause my thoughts to flow. If I could think, feel, be a different person… or puns aside, just be me–in a slightly more well-rounded shape.**
We started our circular journey in Memorial Church. Not the equilateral room at the foyer, nor the steepled, pewed one in the center, but the perfectly cylindrical one at its base. The room was filled with dark wood and heavy carpets and reminded me of being inside a well proportioned turtle. It served as the tourist center to religious life at Stanford, while doubling as the office for the School of Divinity. It may have been the immaculate cubicles, but I felt as if I were intruding. Though I doubt this was intended, being stared at politely has a subduing effect.
Next we jutted off to the Richard Serra exhibit outside of the Cantor Center, Stanford’s small, but impressive art museum. Serra’s works are built of tall rusted steal walls, that seem to slither, very, very slowly. Walking along the inner spiral, it can feel like discovering a lost city or maybe a flashback to 127 Hours.
Finally, we meandered toward the yet unfinished Bing Concert Hall. It’s shaped like a giant and very grand egg that’s just starting to unfold. The unconstructed envelope was riddled with steel and plywood, making it seem almost like the bird had flown the building, and the shell was falling back into itself. I wanted to peak in, but without a hardhat, it’s probably a good thing I couldn’t get too close.
Nothing that I saw yesterday was too shocking. The shape of the rooms I was in did shape my thoughts, but I think I already knew that it would. What still sits with me is just how we make these decisions, semi-consciously, all the time lives. I wonder how many times I’ve sat on a certain bench because it looked right. It might be time to recognize the effect, to take advantage of all the forms at my disposal. It might be time for a walk.
*Great things come in boxes. Such as Cheerios.
**No doubt a middle-aged future.