Travelling Scholarship Travelling Studio
Image from winning Rotch 2009 project. Boston Ice Storage building.

Image by Brandon Shigeta

Zachary Hinchliffe, 2005 Rotch Scholar

Problem

Design a new Somerville subway station with work and exhibition space for creative artists.

Solution

Somerville Arts Station
Form

The figure of the building purposefully attempts to  simultaneously reinforce and negate the triangular shape of the site. The project begins by occupying the entirety of the site and voids are then subtracted out to create the resulting serpentine figure. The challenging shape of the site becomes therefore not an obstacle to be overcome but rather a catalyst for the formal development of the project.

Passage

Given the extreme change in grade and the necessity to allow for access between Union Square at the Northern corner of the site and the new T station at its Southern edge, a passage is threaded through the volume of the building. The passage is expressed as an extension of the glass canopy covering the T station into a pleated glass roof which connects the successive courtyards. The public elements of the project, the gallery and black-box theatre, are both immediately accessible from this route and are clustered towards Union square. The black-box theatre also opens out onto one of the courtyards for exterior performances. The courtyards themselves serve as exterior exhibition spaces for the artists who have studios in the upper levels of the project and therefore foster a visual interaction between the artists and both the commuters en route to the T station and pedestrians passing by on the elevated level of the sidewalk.

Materiality

The proejct is foreseen as clad entirely in grey cement-board Eternit panels. To reinforce the monumentality of the  project the irregular pattern of the panels does not readily reveal the number of floors within the building. All windows are concealed beneath bi-folding Eternit shutters which, when closed, disappear into the pattern. Access to artists studios is along a generous open-air single loaded corridor which is screened by 2' deep vertical Eternit fins. To emphasize the reading of a snaking volume the roof does not follow a single pitch put is instead defined by a faceted zinc surface. In each instance what is sought is, like the play between figure and ground in the composition of the project, a degree of purposeful ambiguity. The first reading of the project always gives way to another as elements are revealed or concealed.

Final program

Preliminary program

Past winners