Saturday, August 29, 2015

Iterations (a design process): John Ronan’s the Poetry Foundation

Poetry Foundation Building, Chicago, Illinois. 2011
Photograph courtesy of the Poetry Foundation.
John Ronan Architects (American, founded 1997); John Ronan (born 1963)
The building comprises:
• a public garden
• a 30,000-volume library
• an exhibition gallery
• the Poetry Foundation’s programming offices

Presentation Model, 2008. The semi-transparent screen in front is featured.
Basswood, cardboard, and Plexiglas
Photographs taken from the exhibition Iterations: John Ronan’s Poetry Foundation.
December 14, 2013–May 4, 2014 at the Art Institute of Chicago, Gallery 24.
Architecture & Design Society, 2012
Photographs by versluis @ 2015 unless otherwise indicated.

Diagrammatic Sketches, 2008
Computer print on paper exhibition copy
Architecture & Design Society, 2012

Iterative Models, 2008
Cardboard, paper, Plexiglas, and other materials
Collage and assemblage site-plans and floor-plans (projecting-up the plan views).
Architecture & Design Society, 2012

Precision drawing.
Architecture & Design Society, 2012

AIC exhibition didactics state:

For Ronan, the gestation of a design begins with analog processes. After a period of thinking the ideas are quickly sketched hand, or down-loaded, in a spontaneous and intuitive manner. This set of hand-drawn diagrams reflects Ronan’s initial thoughts about how best to integrate a garden—a requisite of the project—with the space’s other key elements: a public reading room and library a performance space, a gallery, and an office. Here Ronan explored different relationships—such as interlocking or overlapping—between the building and the garden, which he then translated onto the site plan. …
Founded in 1997 by John Ronan, the Chicago-based architecture firm John Ronan Architects has made its mark with a range of critically acclaimed buildings and a thoughtful approach to spatial relationships and materials. The firm uses a distinct, iterative methodology in order to explore a wide range of options at the outset of a project. While many architects have adopted a completely digital process, Ronan sees advantages in both handmade and digital design methods; the handmade process, seen here, allows for a more intuitive and less calculated approach that is valuable in the beginning stages, while digital tools allow for the precision necessary to finalize a design.

Operating on a shoestring budget since its 1912 founding by Harriet Monroe, Chicago-based Poetry magazine experienced a surprising windfall in 2003 with the bequest of approximately $200 million from the pharmaceutical heiress Ruth Lilly. The magazine reorganized as the Poetry Foundation and decided to build a permanent home to advance its mission of raising the public profile of poetry. After a thorough selection process, the organization selected John Ronan Architects to design the building.

For the Poetry Foundation, Ronan’s design process entailed thoughtful considerations about how to integrate the required elements of the building. As seen here, the iterative approach was used throughout the design’s development-from the initial diagrams and a set of site-specific models to the presentation model-with the goal of creating a compelling spatial narrative. Completed in 2011, the building was recognized with a national design award from the American Institute of Architects. 
This exhibition has been mode possible with support from the Architecture & Design Society. 

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