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The Use of Precedent in Design

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When designing a new building, how can we use historical precedent to guide us? Which precedents should we select? How should we study and apply them to our designs? Enjoy my powerpoint presentation exploring these issues for the AIBD’s First Tuesday @ 2:00. Full recorded version with audio will be forthcoming from the AIBD.

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The Use of Precedent in Design

  1. 1. THE USE OF PRECEDENTIN DESIGNChristine G. H Franck
  2. 2. prec·e·dent (noun)1: an earlier occurrence of something similar2: a. something done or said that may serve as an example orrule to authorize or justify a subsequent act of the same oran analogous kind <a verdict that had no precedent>b. the convention established by such a precedent or bylong practice3: a person or thing that serves as a model(Merriam Webster Dictionary)
  3. 3. pre·ce·dence (noun)1: a. obsolete :ANTECEDENTb. the fact of coming or occurring earlier in time2: a. the right to superior honor on a ceremonial or formaloccasionb. the order of ceremonial or formal preferencec. priority of importance <your safety takes precedence>(Merriam Webster Dictionary)
  4. 4. PRECEDENT/PRECEDENTSNOTPRECEDENCE
  5. 5. WHY USE PRECEDENT AT ALL?
  6. 6. • Can lend AUTHORITY to your design, by equatingyour design to something else• Can create MEANING in your design, for you, thepublic, or the client• Helps the building COMMUNICATE to its users andvisitors, and to the future
  7. 7. Using precedent for your design creates a referencebetween your design and another one.Pantheon (Rebuilt 118-128 AD) by Hadrian. Rotunda (1822-26) by Thomas Jefferson.
  8. 8. Using a precedent can show you examples of how to solvespecific problems in plan, section, elevation and detail.Sketchbook study of moldings (left) by Christine G. H. Franck and molding for use at Chadsworth Cottage (right).
  9. 9. Using a precedent can teach you about the architecture of aplace and help you learn lessons for your own design work.Rosenberg House in Galveston, Texas (left) and design for house in Beachtown (right) by Christine G. H. Franck.
  10. 10. Using a precedent can allow you and your client to see andwalk through something similar to what you are designing..Walking through the Getty Villa with a client for whom I am using this as a precedent.
  11. 11. • Can lend AUTHORITY to your design, by equatingyour design to something else• Can create MEANING in your design, for you, thepublic, or the client• Helps the building COMMUNICATE to its users andvisitors, and to the future
  12. 12. HOW DO I SELECT THE RIGHTPRECEDENT?(or at least a good one)
  13. 13. • Understand the problem at hand, so you canselect a suitable and workable model or models.• Look to known or important works ofarchitecture, to those things approved by historyand taste, don’t look to the latest magazine.• Look for something which you can adequatelyexplore in detail.
  14. 14. .Massing and plan studies of adjacencies, hierarchies and room proportions for Chadsworth Cottage.
  15. 15. Massing and plan of Palladio’s Villa Foscari (la Malcontenta), which served as precedent for cubic building on ahigh base with porch.
  16. 16. Villa Cornaro, Piombino Dese, Italy, Andrea Palladio, 1553 (left) and Designs for Marble Hill, Twickenham,London, Lord Herbert & Roger Morris, 1724-29 (right) both served as additional subjects of study for plan andmassing.
  17. 17. La Malcontenta (left) and Chadsworth Cottage (right).
  18. 18. • Understand the problem at hand, so you canselect a suitable and workable model or models.• Look to known or important works ofarchitecture, to those things approved by historyand taste, don’t look to the latest magazine.• Look for something which you can adequatelyexplore in detail.
  19. 19. WHERE DO I LOOK FORINFORMATION?
  20. 20. • HABS/HAER:http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/collections/habs_haer/• Books like the White Pine Series:http://www.cslib.org/whitepine.htm• Architectural Image Database:http://www.flickr.com/photos/christineghfranck/collections/• Tour and survey yourself!
  21. 21. HABS/HAER:http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/collections/habs_haer/
  22. 22. Books like the White Pine Series:http://www.cslib.org/whitepine.htm
  23. 23. Architectural Image Database:http://www.flickr.com/photos/christineghfranck/collections/
  24. 24. Tour and survey:
  25. 25. • HABS/HAER:http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/collections/habs_haer/• Books like the White Pine Series:http://www.cslib.org/whitepine.htm• Architectural Image Database:http://www.flickr.com/photos/christineghfranck/collections/• Tour and survey yourself!
  26. 26. HOW DO I ANALYZE THESELECTED PRECEDENT?
  27. 27. • Photographs and sketch it in plan, section,elevation, profile• Look for overall relationships and plan adjacencies• Look for specific proportions or rooms, windows,doors, etc.• Study the exact profiles of moldings, angles ofroof slopes, etc.• Study the exact measurements
  28. 28. Inner peristyle at Getty Villa.
  29. 29. Preliminary study of plan and details at Getty Villa for new peristyle.
  30. 30. Preliminary design of new peristyle based on Getty Vill and client preferences..
  31. 31. Plan studies for adaptation to new house.
  32. 32. Plan studies for adaptation to new house.
  33. 33. Plan studies for adaptation to new house.
  34. 34. Measured drawings of fireplace surround and moldings of existing room for use in new room.
  35. 35. • Photographs and sketch it in plan, section,elevation, profile• Look for overall relationships and plan adjacencies• Look for specific proportions or rooms, windows,doors, etc.• Study the exact profiles of moldings, angles ofroof slopes, etc.• Study the exact measurements
  36. 36. HOW DO I APPLY THE SELECTEDPRECEDENT?
  37. 37. • After understanding both your own designproblem, and selecting a precedent, and the nstudying the precedent, apply the precedent toresolve the design problem• It is better to be specific in your study andapplication than general and loose• Do not focus on an exact copy, rather look to learnthe lessons of your precedent: imitate, don’t copy• Use your precedent to check yourself• Precedents may be applied more or less directly
  38. 38. https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.490373454345469.1073741826.185288074854010&type=3
  39. 39. Existing house to be renovated by Steve Mickley.
  40. 40. Images which Steve Mickley “found online that kind of inspired “ him. He also says, “because of thedesired location of our second floor, I was looking for examples with tall entryways.”
  41. 41. Preliminary sketches by Steve Mickley showing application of the precedent to the design problem.
  42. 42. Preliminary sketches by Steve Mickley showingapplication of the precedent to the design problem.
  43. 43. • After understanding both your own designproblem, and selecting a precedent, and the nstudying the precedent, apply the precedent toresolve the design problem• It is better to be specific in your study andapplication than general and loose• Do not focus on an exact copy, rather look to learnthe lessons of your precedent: imitate, don’t copy• Use your precedent to check yourself• Precedents may be applied more or less directly
  44. 44. prec·e·dent (noun)1: an earlier occurrence of something similar2: a. something done or said that may serve as an example orrule to authorize or justify a subsequent act of the same oran analogous kind <a verdict that had no precedent>b. the convention established by such a precedent or bylong practice3: a person or thing that serves as a model(Merriam Webster Dictionary)
  45. 45. QUESTIONS?

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