Author : Andrew Wagner

University : Woodbury School of Architecture, San Diego

Status : BArch, 2014

Advisor : Eric Johnson

Title : Context Forgotten

My initial semester of thesis research focused on the contemporary theoretical context of Architectural Ornament. I spent many hours of my research digging through the digital archives of the French National Library, where I was especially drawn to the excavation drawings of ruins in the 18th and 19th century. Fascinated by the rigorous methods of field observation and drawing that were executed by architects and Pensionnaires, I began to understand the significance observation yields not only in understanding cultures and history, but also in Architectural Education and spatial understanding.

In the contemporary context, we can’t ignore the fact that we exist in a post-post modern world that’s experiencing a digital and technological renaissance – One where tectonic newness and programmatic efficiency dominate. Through curiosity more than resistance, I chose to employ the digital tools and means of our era, not as a way of technological expression, but as a way of studying overlooked cultural information and opening a critical dialogue about the past. More specifically, to pry the humanistic and cultural significance of buildings as they live, age, and die in our contemporary cities.
Choosing an aged mid-century modern building in San Diego, I striped it of its theoretical modernist context and executed a field analysis and excavation of the building as if it were lost in time. Through the process of pragmatic field observation and isolation of tectonic fragments, I was able to re-imagine the building as something new – the emerging typology of the contemporary “ruin”.


S//A: What’s the most important aspect of this project that we should be aware of?
Andrew Wagner_ The entire project was designed off the isolation and expansion of tectonic rules observed in the existing building. I divided the building into three major sections and examined it in various proportional subsections like an excavation. What I greatly learned from this is the importance and significance between all part-to-whole relationships of building elements from the smallest detail, to the final building composition.

S//A: What other fields outside of architecture interest you?
AW_ I’m very much interested in Furniture, Fashion, and Textile Design – more than anything I find it so exciting how much the design disciplines can inform and enrich one another!

S//A: Most important thing you learned in architecture school?
AW_ Follow your true self-interests fully and seriously in school, even if they seem unpopular or obscure – our future is unwritten, so we will ultimately be the creators of it. Also, critical input from peers and instructors is the most important aspect to actual improvement.

S//A: Describe your dream project
AW_ My dream project is to design something modest that creates a unique memory and sense of discovery when experiencing it. Memory gives context and significance to buildings in time, and I believe strong emotional reactions to “place” yield strong communities for generations.