We are living through one of our democracy’s most intense crises in generations. Our political culture has divided our nation into our respective camps creating a world shaped by ideology instead of argument. As a result, polarization has become the current state of our communities as Americans look to embolden their respective camps instead of questioning ideas. The effects of this lifestyle have made a public seeped in certainty, claiming to have all the answers often before it even knows the questions.
This thesis will attempt to create an architecture that challenges this culture of ideology and certainty by reinventing our temples to democracy, the state capitol. Historian Henry-Russell Hitchcock states, “For nowhere have Americans revealed quite so fully all the nobility and folly comprising their national character as in the building of their state capitols.” The state capitol as a monument is both austere and intimidating, representing authority made up of vast Roman temples and behemoths of the neo-Baroque. The state capitol is an exemplar of traditional mastery, and “at the core of this expertise lies a sense of correctness.”
Where traditional mastery strove for a perfection of form and composition, this thesis posits a new mastery that will undermine the traditional by being awkward or incorrect. This architecture will be lacking the “right” proportions, size, or harmony of parts. An awkward architecture can challenge a public that is drowning in their own certainty by championing an awkward architecture, a public may start to ask questions instead of knowing answers.