In the design of stadiums, structure often plays simultaneous roles of performance and representation. The same enormous beams and columns that facilitate massive interior spans also serve as brushstrokes to depict exterior images of heroism and athleticism to the city. In these situations, structure brings inward- looking and outward-facing considerations into harmony, responding to two questions with the same answer.
But perhaps this compatibility is limiting, and new architectural opportunities lie in the moments when interior structural reality and exterior structural expression do not easily align. This thesis explores the tension between the apparent tectonics of a building’s urban figure and the actual tectonics of its inner skeleton through the design of a new basketball arena for the Los Angeles Clippers. By decoupling structural function and structural image, the arena aims to address the complexities of assembling and communicating to diverse, contemporary publics.
In this new arena, structure frames both the interior experience of the game and the exterior projection of the game’s reproduction. Integrating with these multiple ways of viewing—both live and mediated—the tension and compression members themselves begin to toe the line between reality and simulation. Structure straddles this divide as it operates across scales, negotiating between the individual and the arena and between the building and the city. From the individual member to the macro-assembly, this structural system demonstrates its flexibility, fulfilling competing roles of performance and representation as it simultaneously supports and frames collective experience.