I’ve had circles on the brain recently. Here’s an example of a small project that stemmed from a little single family residential remodel I’m working on, where we’re turning a nondescript backyard into a courtyard, uniting three distinct structures into one in the process. My version objectifies that courtyard, an off-center circular motor court, with a peristyle all around – porches, porticos, patios, garages, and alleys all spiral off of this singular form.
As I was writing this post a few weeks ago, I found the plan to be once again worthy of some further reflection and thought – precisely the nine-square plan, with a hybrid basilica and greek cross interior volume, the four empty corners filled with circular forms (bathrooms and stairs) encased in heavy poche, and all of it wrapped in a brick Richardsonian wrapper under a singularly simple red tile hip roof. The bottom iteration was the first, while I was still wrangling the plan into a perfect nine-square.
This post is simple – the building is simple. This is a small motor pavilion at the Empress Hotel in Victoria, BC. The neo-gothic style of the main hotel is reinterpreted in a small square glass and iron pavilion. What I’m showing here is merely there clerestory roof volume with half of a reflected ceiling plan and an elevation. The copper standing seam roof has aged wonderfully on the salty bay air.
A building type that was very common in the western United States in the decades before World War II, the bowtruss-roofed industrial building was a single story brick or concrete masonry shell, topped with a long-span wood truss roof that resembled a bow in section – hence the name. Many of these stand throughout the Los Angeles basin, which are the originators of this project. The brick volume is open to the short sides, pedimented on the approach, and takes hints of Hejduk’s Wall House, where bathrooms stand as separate, formally distinct, elements. A more elaborate exploration is at the bottom, where the restrooms become chimney-inglenook pieces, and the bowtruss volume is surrounded with a peristyle among other things. . .
O. M. Ungers and Richard Meier play the primary instigators in terms of language of this basilica – minus the Doric impluvium entry courtyard, of course. The front elevation/plan drawing shows shadows that hint at both wormseye and oblique axonometric projections. Structure and tectonics play a central role where pipe and wide flange columns slide back and forth next to one another, while small circular side chapels cut into the deep poche of the stone walls.
This room comes from a very unlikely place – a simply detailed restroom at Richard Meier’s Getty Center. A heavily veined dark grey marble floor stood in nice contrast to the Carrara marble wainscotting and white plaster walls above. That’s where things started. This version panels out the Carrara walls on the interior, topping it off with a tall conic skylight (maybe the Getty galleries?), and all of it wrapped in a Tuscan-detailed wood wrapper.