Inverse, In Verse
Spring 2017, Studio 3, Profs. Thomas Kong & Charlie Pipal
Software Rhino, Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign
The reasons for preservation are myriad. But without critically considering the reasons, preservation can become a trap. It can be done for its own sake; forgoing a community’s interest and diminishing living cultural value. Pilgrim Baptist Church is at such a point in its hisory. Built by Adler and Sullivan, this church was originally constructed as a synagogue. When the Jewish congregation moved south, the African American community in the area repurposed the structure as a Baptist church, where it found its second, and longest life. It was famously revered as a center for gospel and music. Tragically, a series of financial mistakes lead to poor upkeep and ultimately a fire, which left only parts of the brick and rusticated stone facade.
Today, the fragments remain, heavily supported by large, obstructive beams. Though completely unusable, the walls are maintained only because of their connection to Sullivan. Inverse aims to critique that preservation. In reconstructing the original structure, with the remaining original stone, but inverted, the proposal seeks to maximize the reification of the structure. The earth, removed from its burden under the structure, is then further compressed and placed into ceremonial burial mounds upon which are impressed the major writings of Louis Sullivan. Ultimately the site becomes a monastic tomb and memorial to the fallen building and its designer. Through this radical act of monumentalization, Inverse seeks to critique the nature of this building’s preservation.