We sat down with Juan, Designer in HLB’s New York office, and got the inside scoop on his thought process that became an award winning thesis.

“I envisioned my thesis being more than just a design project. I wanted to create a challenge for myself and for my peers in which I questioned notions of design that are not normally put in the spotlight or examined through empirical studies. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to work with images, since that is a primary tool of communication in the fields of architecture and lighting design. However, the final definition of the scope of my investigation came while I was working with clients outside of school. I noticed I would meet architects and interior designers and, during our design sessions, we would often speak about the same images using very different, and often contradictory, terms. I found inspiration in this dissonance in our communication. Could I help improve the communication between the disciplines? Could I serve as a translator?”

“I found El Ponce when I was in college, in a class of Latin American Architecture History. I was immediately drawn to the story of opulence from the 1960’s that gave rise to such an icon, and to the fall that led it to be abandoned and in ruins for nearly half a century. I went to the site a few times, including a trip with a drone to survey the building and its surroundings. This was a groundbreaking achievement that year, being the first project presented at Parsons that was documented using a drone. I also met with the son of the architect of the building, who is also an architect and inherited his father’s firm in New York City. He keeps the original hand drawings in his studio, which were a marvel to look at.”

“I developed a proposal to transform the ruins into a residence, using daylight and electric light to highlight the outstanding formal features of the structure. I had decided during my research that I wanted to address the variable of daytime vs nighttime in my study. Therefore, I developed different versions of the same images of the project in daytime and nighttime. Then, under a controlled setting, I asked groups of architects, lighting designers, and laypeople to rate the images and attach adjectives to them. I found strong correlations between the professional field of the respondents and the type of reaction they had to the images: architects loved daytime images for both exterior and interior spaces, whereas lighting designers preferred the nighttime shots in both cases. Architects characterized the nighttime images as dangerous and unsafe, whereas lighting designers named those same images interesting and romantic.” – Says Juan.

View Juan’s Thesis

Source: Cooper Industries

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