Boarding House
A Play of Words and Deeds

Submitted as an entry in the international design competition “Public Space in the New American City”, this investigation for Atlanta, GA received an award of Honorable Mention. An interdisciplinary design process marrying architecture and performance addressed questions of how the public space of the city of Atlanta is remembered, enacted, and ultimately produced. The typology of the boarding house was chosen as an armature for a parable of the city – the possibility of strangers residing in the same home blurring the boundaries between public and private space.

Located on the site of the Central Avenue Viaduct – an infrastructure covering the former railroad access to downtown – the boarding house occupies the space above and below the street. The project seeks to reveal and intensify critical historical relationships embedded in the city through selective formal and programmatic displacements. Characteristics of the city’s first two story house and the original municipal park are collapsed and grafted onto the site. Ultimately, the viaduct becomes the scene of a performance with the architecture being an active participant in the event, where the tenants of the boarding house reenact a script that fictionalizes the city’s development. Designed in collaboration with Ben Ledbetter Architect.

“Kafka’s world is a world theater. For him, man is on the stage from the beginning. What the standards for admission are cannot be determined. Dramatic talent, the most obvious criterion, seems to be of no importance. But this can be expressed in another way: all that is expected of the applicants is the ability to play themselves. It is no longer in the realm of possibility that they could, if necessary, be what they claim to be.”
-Walter Benjamin, Illuminations