Saturday, December 20, 2008
The Carpenter Centre for the Visual Arts (1963) designed by Le Corbusier is a building of intricate spatial devices, carefully choregraphed movement, and revealing views. It is Le Corbusier's only building in North America and one of his last buildings. As such the building is a fascinating collection of ideas, architectural language and devices developed in Le Corbusier's lifetime compressed into a complex building which reveals and explains itself to you with ease. Elements from La Tourette, Marseille, Chandigarh, and earlier works of the 1920's such as Ville Savoye and Maison Ozenfant.
Approaching the building from any angle one is swept up, under or into the building and which leads to the centre of the building as views of the different volumes and glimpses into the office space, exhibition space open before arriving at full height glazed walls of the studio, the building effectively cut through in section, split by the ramp and movement of people and revealed.
The ease of movement and orientation is continued as one enters the building and moves through a heirachical series of open and closed staircases, through the gallery spaces, up into the studios and across into the offices. The landscaped terrace is both roof terrace and due to the main ramp a new artificial ground plane.
One of the most exciting aspects of the building, like many of Le Corbusier's buildings, was the way in which it was being used. The artists treat the space as a workshop and studio without the preciousness one might expect from such a building and gave the building a feeling of being enjoyed and used for it's intended purpose.