Sarah Quinn
Isabel Munoz

Document Type

Thesis, Senior




Spring 2020


typology, urban fabric, counter-history, memorialization, memory, power, pyschology, monumentality




Architecture | Other Architecture


Spatializing Erasure is an investigation into and a critique of current traditional memorialization techniques and the erasure of counter-historical narratives from the urban fabric. We are seeking to use architecture as a lens to critique our current socio-political climate by employing techniques of memorialization, sensationalism, and certain spatial tactics relating to memory onto the typologies of the courthouse and the archive, actively reinforcing memories of trauma, injustices, and activism onto a typology that has historically been negligent towards its contribution to systemic erasure and oppression of counter-history. This project aims to impose the collective memory of erased narratives onto the city in the form of a courthouse imbued with commemorative and sensational archive spaces for consuming and imposing forgotten memories. Doing so will provide a lens into the past and demand that un-represented histories are not forgotten or reversed. In an effort to critique the current tendency for conventional memorials to reinforce the dominant narratives of history, we are aiming to enforce elements of memorialization and collective memory onto a different typology completely; by choosing to design a courthouse combined with a public archive, we are not only aiming to make the legal system as public as possible and encourage public investment into its political systems, but we are aiming to impose the often erased narratives of the collective onto the system that is responsible for this erasure, bringing to light the nature of the justice system as a whole. The main areas of research that culminated in the decision to design an archive and courthouse began with a case study of 3 historical events that exemplify the nature of collective memory and the tradition of counter-history being erased from the dominant narrative of American culture, each of them centered around years of the 1960s and 70s-- an era for social change and civil rights-- and they became the generative factor in the decision to design a courthouse. The 3 events-- the existence of the Jane Collective from 1969 to the passing of Roe v Wade in 1973, the 1968 Democratic National Convention Riots, and the 1963 School Segregation boycotts-- began as means to study and spatialize narratives of protest and resistance and how they are wiped from our understanding of dominant history, but their common factor of stemming from the faults and systemic failures of the American Justice System. Despite these three events having a significant impact on the collective history and culture of the city and the country as a whole, there are no memorials dedicated to them, and the spaces where these events occurred are used without any acknowledgment of their history. Because of this, we decided that instead of attempting to design a memorial that would be bogged down with the history of memorials as structures that often serve as agents for reinforcing the dominant narrative of history, Spatializing Erasure aims to address the common cause of much of the erasure of the counter-narrative: the justice system itself, and it aims to imbue the U.S. court system with the public and collective nature that an element of public service should be held to.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.