Theoretical Adaptation of St. Stephens Church _ Chicago, Illinois
Competition Entry for Chicago Architectural Club's Burnham Prize
In Collaboration with Meriç Özgen
Hierarchy is dead. A highly dispersed network has supplanted its previous structure. Historic records relied on orders and ordering of events whose hierarchy was perpetuated by our systems of representation. Society’s landmarks and institutions served to record meaning and time in history. If the dome of past centuries symbolized an ordered spatial experience with singularly driven social aspirations, today’s dome has fallen flat in an era of ubiquity. The proliferation of countless histories enabled by our vast reserves of data has transformed History into a multiplicitous manifestation. What used to be historic records are now virtual registries.
The Ministry is a response to our continually expanding capacity to store a wealth of information. These growing reserves constitute the new capital that shapes our future-histories. Pre-emptive disseminations are a method to absolve loss of unification and thus, decree meaning. Despite Baudrillard’s assertion that today’s information, even though ubiquitous, contains less and less meaning, the Ministry finds meaning in its volume.
The Ministry of Reserve both administers and presents histories. Out of our ever-increasing reserves of digital capital, history is now a preoccupation - a mode of production. The hierarchy of lineages have dissolved into an associative network always in flux. What comprises value in capital in constant change? As money is eclipsed by information, currency’s power manifests itself in capacity and its strength lies in its volume.
Projection replaces procession. The once sequential unraveling of events has been leveled. Our technical capacity to process infinite trajectories of information has resulted in an era of simultaneity. As our capacity to register this multiplicity broadens, projections - both technical and psychological - flatten layers of structure. The visual echo of our no longer singular, but multiplicitous histories subverts relics of hierarchy. In the Ministry of Reserve, the historical spatial sequence that led to the dome is now convoluted, forking, partially obscured, and partially renewed with its auxiliary spaces. The Ministry attempts to harness the wealth of information manifested in multiplicitous histories and re-present it to us. Power lies in Reserve.