Super Postmodern
Master of Architecture Thesis
Princeton University

Instructor: Elizabeth Diller
Advisor: Jesse Reiser
Assistance: John Murphey, Toshiki Hirano, Dana McKinney, Nasra Nimaga, Nushelle de Silva, Jean Choi, Razvan Ghilic-Micu, Erica Nobori, Sanjay Sukie, Patrick Tierney, Silan Yip

2010-2011

The etymology of super originates from Latin, meaning "above, beyond." The way above is sought through the liminal space between noise and music.

Renaissance Humanist architectural proposition is the precedent. This classical theory utilized tonal ratios and proportional systems based on Plato's account of the universal harmony in the Timaeus, and Pythagoras' demonstration of music's mathematic order as the expression of the universe. Historian Rudolf Wittkower explained that this basis raised architecture from métier to transcendental art.

Instead of looking back at the visual orders of Greek and Roman antiquity, in light of the Postmodern erasure of stable meanings and contemporary research in Novel Tectonics, it is more interesting to examine music's capacity to become noise (and back) using simple and sharp geometry alongside complex and smooth formal systems. Going beyond proportions and ratios is necessary since Humanist concepts eroded from Baroque onward —starting with polyphonic fugal and canonic innovations. Furthermore, music since Quattrocento contains new forms of sonorities, harmonics, tonality, and themes that can be noise to some and delight to others. These insights guide the effort to alternate between the Blur of noise and the focus of music using tectonic arrangement of geometry.

Examining the oscillations inherent in the binary opposition of music/noise, the notational details are based on variations of the cubic form. A simple expression of complex thought.

Conclusively, this theory is demonstrated with a new World Trade Center Memorial. The cubic variations symbolize multiple meanings, congruent and contradictory, using formal abstraction; lamentations counterpointed by monumental overtures, resounding above and beyond.