Spring 2012, Jackson Studio
Grant Cogan’s thesis, Agitative Ecologies, argues that architectural strategies premised on social engagement and cooperation falsely presume that architecture can overcome the self-directed interests of a highly individuated public. Instead, he proposes a more ecological model, in which the architecture becomes a set of experiential and spatial resources for which individuals compete and negotiate. The resulting architectural space thus becomes a series of temporary equilibrium states that result within a never-ending competition among individuals and groups for control over public space, atmosphere, and experience. The low-stakes spatial competition fostered by this approach may serve to initiate a subsequent dialogue among the competing parties—although the project refrains from making a naïve claim as to the character or ultimate productivity of such a dialogue. This thesis project demonstrates this “agitative” approach within a cultural center that serves the various low-income and ethnically distinct neighborhoods segregated by Chicago’s infamous Dan Ryan Expressway.