Designed Ambiguity

institution: harvard graduate school of design
instructor: florian idenburg
team members: enoch wong and myself
time: spring 2016
project: a joint venture laboratory for corning, Inc.
location: corning, new york
publication: “work environments: glass works” studio report

In today’s corporate world, strategic partnerships and associations are a necessity. A partnership is created when a shared goal is identified and neither party can efficiently achieve it on their own. Corning, Inc. has a longstanding history of joint ventures and associations with companies in both competing and disparate industries.

The challenge of designing a joint venture laboratory for Corning is the possible combinations of skill sets and degree of shared information. In some joint ventures, the two parties are competitors in the same market and must protect their own intellectual property. In others, the two belong to dissimilar industries and full transparency is mutually beneficial. This new laboratory must be designed to accommodate joint ventures that favor either separation or unification.

Regardless of the structure of any joint venture scenario, we determined that public program, such as the lobby, cafe, auditorium, library, and gallery were always shared spaces. These spaces create a wandering atrium through the center of the tower/podium massing, acting as both a buffer and transition space between two halves. The boundary between public and private space is deliberately ambiguous. The public space not only physically separates the research spaces of the two halves of a joint venture, but also blends into the private spaces to camouflage itself. This separation is meant to be illegible, creating a stronger sense of unity rather than division.