Jorge Silvetti (March 12, 1997)



Roger Sherman introduces Jorge Silvetti.

Choosing not to talk about their urban planning work, Jorge Silvetti focuses on how he and his partner Rodolfo Machado think about buildings. He maintains that the field of architecture has changed in drastic and unforeseen ways during his generation. Architecture has changed in response to society embracing a new era of democracy and rightfully challenging the exclusive hegemony of certain discourses. He states that although architecture cannot be many things, there are many architectures today.

Silvetti discusses their ongoing work in South Park in Manhattan, which is located in a rare horizontally organized section of the island. The main challenge of the project was to provide a monumental user experience while incorporating the given program of a fast food restaurant and public bathrooms. Pursuing his interest in the colossal, Silvetti views the park as the site of a colossus.

Silvetti presents their entry for a competition for the Houston Medical Center Nursing School which required them to work with extreme climatic conditions, incorporating elements such as an enclosed sky walk from the building to the parking structure. A series of horizontal and vertical holes throughout the building generate a natural air flow and provide natural light to help minimize energy consumption.

Silvetti discusses their work on the Getty Villa in Malibu which began in 1993. They approached the renovation as a museum curator, creating a context for the building that would inform the visitor’s experience. Treating the villa as one of many artifacts on the site helped them to formulate an architectural response. They used a typical Roman villa as a guide. One decision was to open a compluvium in the roof above the existing impluvium pool as a way of bringing the artifact closer to its original. Another large intervention is the addition of a grand staircase leading visitors to the large second floor which is very rare in traditional Roman villas.

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