Taking measure of a site: An inquiry into dimension and scale in the building and rebuilding of a single block

1998 1998

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Abstract (summary)

As an architect approaches a site, particularly an urban site, with an intention to build, the first encounter is a process of assessing, sizing up, then measuring the place as a means of acquaintance. Measure is the architect's metier. Yet what does it mean to measure? How do measures define the body and locate us in place? Is measure only a standardized operation or can it be recognized as a creative act? This work looks at the fabric of a single block in Philadelphia, through site measures, historical research and a reading of fictional imagery associated with the city, to parse many means of measure went into each stage of its building and rebuilding. Several different types of measure emerge each of which gives the street a different scale and pace to specify inhabitation both physically and imaginatively. Different systems overlaid on one another in an older city measure the city in alternate ways to tell multiple stories that create points of intensity at places of overlap and invite innovation in design. Changes in architectural scale likewise create disjunctions in the fabric that open to narrative readings, fantasy and fictional allusions that become part of the ordinary city. This work recognizes measure as a mediator that brings disparate things into contact with one another, as dimensions specify construction joints between two different building materials. Measure allows aspects of real sensual experience, material architecture, images and fictional allusions to create relationships in which they redefine one another and give quality to architectural space. The means of measure changes the measurer.

Indexing (details)

Urban planning;
Area planning & development
0729: Architecture
0999: Urban planning
0999: Area planning & development
Identifier / keyword
Communication and the arts; Social sciences; Block; Building; Dimension; Measure; Rebuilding; Scale; Urbanism
Taking measure of a site: An inquiry into dimension and scale in the building and rebuilding of a single block
Read, Alice Gray
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 59/07, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
9780591941135, 0591941139
Frascari, Marco
University of Pennsylvania
University location
United States -- Pennsylvania
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
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