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Ben Halpern

Altered Sequences

The manifesto for the project compares the arrangement of a mixed-use program to the sequence of film. The normative condition considers three disparate programmatic arrangements, as in three autonomous strips of film. By referencing Eadweard Muybridge's still-frame animations as a method of analyzing a scene in anatomical isolation as well as in relation to its larger sequence, the topological manipulations (splice, jump cut, etc.) occur at the scale of the still frame—or individual program element—rather than the entire sequence. Thus, the completely altered arrangement contains sliced hotel bands around alternating gym and spa programs, with a resultant skip-stop circulation system.

The heterogeneity of the normative condition transforms into evenness throughout the section, while the sequences remain distinct despite the homogeneity. The holistic diagram of the building can only describe certain conditions, as local episodic vignettes are required to explain many design elements, much like the still frames of Muybridge’s manifesto. The ways in which the escalators break through a floor—the bypass conditions—are directly linked with the ways the program is delineated on each floor, depending on its scale.

Similarly, there is no global system describing the building's thermodynamics, as the massing of the hotel bands locally controls thermal comfort based on orientation and the variability of the program inside. As the effect of the circulation sequences is largely visual, the relationship between space and vision drives the social agenda for the project. At once, a gym patron is both a performer inside an arena for the hotel-ring audience, as well as an audience member, as he or she ascends the escalator and the angle shifts to a panoptic condition, enabling an entire view of the hotel perimeter below as well as out into the city.

About The Designer

Ben Halpern is pursuing an M.Arch from the Harvard GSD. With an undergraduate background in engineering and art from Stanford University, Ben previously worked at an architecture and design consultancy in California and New York while maintaining his painting practice, showing in various curated galleries and exhibitions.