Ian Miley

MArch I AP

James Templeton Kelley Prize, Masters in Architecture I

Stranger in Moscow: The Diplomatic Illusive

Advised by John May and Andrew Witt

Ian Miley, James Templeton Kelley Prize, Masters in Architecture I. Aerial perspective showing the embassy compound against the backdrop of the adjacent Stalinist skyscraper.

Diplopia (n.) describes a disorder of vision in which two images of a single object are seen. Situated among other disciplinary -opias, diplopia is re-imagined to invoke a double place, more narrowly, a space for diplomacy. Our modern concept of diplomacy emerged in the Italian Renaissance in the formalization of epistolary exchange between sovereign states. Ancestral letters – or diplomas – on the one hand an official state document conferring privilege, on the other simply a paper folded twice over, fold revelation within the act of concealment. This is the duplicitous act upon which diplomatic practices are founded. Since its emergence as a genre of space, the diplomatic setting has been framed by dramaturgical and optical techniques intended to produce a doubling of reality.

This thesis considers the Embassy for the U.S. diplomatic mission to the Russian Federation in Moscow — a structure implicated in a history of espionage, riddled with listening devices, procured via labyrinthine construction contracts. The reciprocal subversions performed across the Iron Curtain during the Cold War — succinctly illustrated in MAD Magazine’s “Spy vs. Spy” comic strips — appear to have been recently reanimated. Through the interplay of illusionistic techniques drawn from the ecclesiastical chancel, 1960s Op-Art, and recursive computation, distortive methods propose a dialectic of concealment and revelation in architecture. Stagecraft and statecraft conspire to project the possibility of built form through the production of doubt.

Ian Miley, James Templeton Kelley Prize, Masters in Architecture I. First floor plan of the chancery, housing reception, security, and cultural functions.
Ian Miley, James Templeton Kelley Prize, Masters in Architecture I. Fifth floor plan of the chancery, housing the functions of bilateral diplomacy.
Ian Miley, James Templeton Kelley Prize, Masters in Architecture I. Eighth floor plan of the chancery, housing the intelligence functions and confidential archives.
Ian Miley, James Templeton Kelley Prize, Masters in Architecture I.
Ian Miley, James Templeton Kelley Prize, Masters in Architecture I. Section through the atrium, showing the vertical continuity of poche.
Ian Miley, James Templeton Kelley Prize, Masters in Architecture I. Elevational rendering of the chancery, demonstrating the selective opacity and transparency of the façade.
Ian Miley, James Templeton Kelley Prize, Masters in Architecture I. Interior perspective through one of the many enfilades in the embassy.

Project Acknowledgments

Special thanks to: Andrew Witt, John MayRhetorical support: Samantha Vasseur (MArch, MDes HPDM ’21)

Drawing support: Samantha Vasseur (MArch, MDes HPDM ’21), Ian Bankhead (MArch ’22), Aleksis Bertoni (MArch ’18), Cynthia Deng (MArch, MUP ’21), Isabel Tiange Wang (MArch ’22)

Rendering support: Jung In Seo (MIT MArch ’20), Dalma Földesi (MIT MArch ’20), Danmo Fu (MArch ’22), Glen Marquardt (MArch ’21)