Anika Shah

As screens dominate our experience of the built environment, this thesis exploits the materiality of LCD (liquid-crystal display) monitors in order to revive architecture’s capacity to produce visual effects, social encounters, and haptic experiences for a mediated public. Digital screens have become windows into alternate realities, augmenting how we see ourselves and the world around us. While they afford views that, at first glance, appear immaterial and infinitely vast, this technology is backed by fixed layers of glass, polarizing film, reflectors and fluid that are easily overlooked yet unique to the imaging process. By deconstructing, studying, and redeploying the displays of various devices at the building scale, this project creates an architecture that both simulates and resists the immersiveness of digital culture.

If screens are often accessory to physical space, Screenplay uses the different substrates of LCD monitors as mediums to renew spatial awareness. The thesis tests different applications of these materials in a proposal for an office building near Hudson Yards, the home of New York City’s tech industry and the site of the country’s first-ever “Quantified Community.” The office was chosen as the case study for this research because it is a space of routinized immaterial production that, alongside other skyscrapers, helps to image the city’s collective identity. As the industry’s rapid progress and innovation begets millions of tons of e-waste, the project harvests this excess matter from consumer electronics for use across the tower’s facade and throughout its interior. The typical office layout is reconfigured based on the light-bending properties and perceptual qualities of chosen sheet types. At different times during the day, the building’s convexly-curved envelope and internal partitions modulate sunlight and distort views of both the surrounding area and employee computer screens, purposely disrupting habitual interactions that users have developed with both their devices and urban space.