LOCATION: Cambridge, MA
PROJECT COST: $0
Freelon > REACH, an exhibit at MIT's Wolk Gallery, provided a unique opportunity to rediscover and self-critique. Too often, architects labor over a building's design, generating a wealth of sketches and ideas, only to never revisit their work once the building is complete. In peeling back layers of project history in preparation for this exhibit, we were able to analyze our process and explore how it has evolved over time. Re-examining our buildings after years of use prompted dialogue about vision, realization, those elements which were successful and others which were perhaps less so. It is through this process that we are able to use retrospection as a way of reaching forward.
The exhibit was intended to be an introduction to, rather than a catalogue of, Freelon's work. Given the small, intimate setting of the gallery, we selected projects that best represented our body of work and ideology. Although each of our eleven selected works differs from the next, they represent a consistent philosophy about the role of design in our ever changing society.
Two initial decisions were made regarding the design of this exhibit. First, the exhibit would be more than pictures, drawings and models arranged within a neutral gallery space. Second, we decided that the exhibit should showcase content that is best experienced in person. The resulting custom installation complemented the exhibit content, engaged visitors and affected the perceived architecture of the space. The use of physical models was emphasized because their tactile, volumetric qualities cannot be fully expressed through photography. The varied materials, scales, and qualities of the exhibit content reflect Freelon's collaborative nature.
The ambitious nature of the exhibit required considerable planning and coordination. Visits were made to the Wolk Gallery to understand and document the gallery's space and context. Physical and digital models of the gallery were constructed to both aid our design and convey our intentions to MIT. A team of Freelon staff and close collaborators were committed to refurbishing and constructing models, preparing graphic content, writing text, and photographing buildings and process. The exhibit was designed by Freelon and fabricated locally using MDF, which was then returned to Freelon for finishing. The graphic panels, also designed by Freelon, were printed and mounted onto a thin, flexible PVC backer. All components of the exhibit were carefully coordinated to enable assembly at MIT, disassembly, and transportation to other gallery locations.
Photography: George X. Lin