G. Antonio Casalduc

MArch I

After a Lost Original

Advised by Sergio Lopez-Pineiro

Brick, like CMU, has a nominal dimension that differs from its material reality. This discrepancy between naming and the real permits a margin of error during the process of installation while still allowing for approximation to a desired outcome— form. Similarly, at the scale of the building, visual alignments, symmetries, series, and centers imply precise orders when, in reality, things are not organized in an exact totality. The center of a room is less a point and more a blotch.

To transform implies that something that was there a priori undergo a transgression. The original: a preexisting artifact, a model, or type has a particular system of coherence. In adaptation projects, tolerance—the allowable deviation from absolute precision—is laid bare by the alignments and misalignments between an original and the transformation.

The original here, a 19th-century neoclassical Spanish hospital, turned jail, turned asylum, turned tobacco factory, turned rum distillery, turned historical archive, will undergo an expansion to accommodate the national library of San Juan. The building, which has hosted through its life programs for surveying, inventorying, and distributing, is adapted to accommodate one of the last building types that allows for the public freedom of loitering. Its imprecise symmetries and misalignments serve as a foil to rethink the building in relation to this ambivalent status between exact and inexact, between certainty and ambiguity. Here, high tolerance is not just a useful tool for assembly but a framework that allows for budging, appropriation, and reinterpretation.

G. Antonio Casalduc, MArch I. Topology of Arcadian building.