Victoria Lee

Document Type

Thesis, Senior




Spring 2014


Language, History, Formalism, Modernism, Culture






The project contends that explicit appropriation can be a legitimate method of architectural production. The scope encompasses four canonical works of architecture: Villa Rotonda, Villa Savoye, Fallingwater, and the Farnsworth House. These works are appropriated as the basis of a retrospective analysis and as the foundation for a speculative, generative design strategy. Following the height of postmodernism, the notion of explicit formal appropriation was characterized in a negative light, seen as inauthentic imitation. However, an increasing number of contemporary artists and architects are utilizing explicit appropriation and historical reference as a primary method of production. This mode of thinking can perhaps can be traced to our contemporary network culture, where all material is appropriated, copied, pasted, and rehashed. Through appropriation, fidelity to the original is lost, and the intention for producing the copy becomes embedded in the product itself. Rather than postmodern, this project’s strategy of appropriation identifies with the atemporality of network culture. We are challenged by the notion of origin and, therefore, originality. Elements are freely appropriated from history and seamlessly incorporated into new contexts. Within this network culture, society is also consuming imagery at an ever more rapid pace, bombarded with images that discard history, context, and meaning. We are becoming more numb to form, and as we search for gratification through newness, everything has begun to look the same. The appropriation of form without content has become easier, encouraging an uncritical consumption and production of design. Exposure to high volumes of imagery has overtaken any critical, extended engagement with a single project. Projects are categorized and homogenized, denying a more critical and overarching understanding of architecture. The project manifests through two types of representation. Orthographic drawings fulfill the project’s intention of rigorous analysis and comparison. Through the flattening and abstraction achieved through orthographic projection, the drawings emphasize the seamless formal integration of the works. Logics inherent to the works are discovered once more as the projects are re-diagrammed, juxtaposed, and remade. Secondly, the project goes beyond abstract comparisons through the usage of quasi-realist representation. It utilizes appropriation as a generative method towards the creation of new spatial conditions. Here, the project begins to speculate on how contemporary culture might appropriate these past works. It attempts to exacerbate the dissonance between icon and reality and examine the dissemination of ideas from high-brow to mass culture. The project serves as a critique of the traditional understanding of architectural authorship and the contemporary production and consumption of architecture.

Additional Information

Thesis Advisers: Kyle Miller, Larry Bowne, Stephen Kuusisto

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Included in

Architecture Commons