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Pembroke Hall, designed by architect Alfred Stone and completed in 1897, was originally Pembroke College, a women’s college affiliated with Brown University. Pembroke Hall now houses the Women’s Studies Department at Brown.
Comprehensive interior renovation by architect Toshiko Mori adds elevators, amenities and modern media technology to Pembroke Hall.
I was asked to design a podium for speakers that provides an interface for the multimedia system and serves as a piece of “art-like” object furniture that aesthetically mediates between the original building, the new architecture and the Ann Hamilton installation.
The podium was to be a sculptural object that in some way mediated between the restored existing architecture and the new, modernist intervention. The conference space is organized around a large fireplace and the podium was to act as a mobile “second fireplace” around which lectures and panel discussions would take place. The podium was also to connect with the building’s multimedia system, giving the speaker the option of working directly with a touch-screen interface or plugging in their own laptop computer for which a power supply and various data jacks are provided.
Originally conceived of as referencing an austere Victorian-era writing desk or lectern that would go with the iconography of the type-drawer motif used in the carpet installation, the project instead moved toward reproducing the material qualities and angular geometry of the roof timbers.