“Model Sacramento” seeks to develop an alternative environmental aesthetics for architecture in the design of a new California EPA building on the Capitol Mall in Sacramento.
The existing CAL/EPA headquarters building is billed as one of the largest LEED-Platinum buildings in the United States. The contrast between its highly conventional organization and appearance and its technically certified green efficiency is emblematic of California’s governing position on environmental policy, in which pollution, carbon emissions, and waste are depicted as products of a yet-to-be optimized technical project of environmental engineering rather than a political project of representation. As such, it is hidden from view and its proponents tout such architecture’s ability to reproduce the status quo of conventional building; to sweep the “green” aspects out of sight, behind the veil. Such an approach effectively dematerializes the building; it reduces architecture to a problem of management rather than material.
Materially driven green architecture, on the other hand, seeks to index the building’s participation in material ecologies by pursuing visibly composite assemblies of identifiable objects or materials. In working through the scalar problems inherent to using extra-architectural as-found objects as both building materials and modeling materials, this thesis seeks to move away from the standardized abstraction of commodity materials (which the modern architect is assumed to treat as a kind of translational medium through which to project absolute ideas of abstract space) and instead toward the messily contingent specifics of as-found objecthood.