Milstein Hall (2006) by OMA at Cornell University.

I think the project itself is simple and clean. The phallic bulge, a terrestrial grotto if you may, thrusts and breaks into the horizontal rectilinear modernist box above. The section of the building is a literal programmatic and productive diagram. The work is done in the industrial box while the ‘dome’ contains the cultural gestation.

The image is ironic because of its subversion of architectural cliches: the cold modernist box is feminized by the primeval earth. At first glance the building will probably be met with cynicism due to its clarity and simplicity. However the intellectual richness, the remnants of post-modern humor, is there. This work does not feel smarmy like many other post-OMA projects (*cough*BIG*cough*). I feel a faint hint of artistry underneath all the posturing self-defensive layers of neon colours and polished concrete.

Of course some of the details are a bit weird… the new corner entrance from the main lawn sandwiched between the two existing buildings could use some more spatial articulation apart from an overhanging modernist box (its bluntness is commendable for its stark surrealism: modernism collaged directly onto an older style).


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