Master’s Research Project (Thesis), UCLA
2014 - 2015
Critic: Heather Roberge

Location: Los Angeles, CA
Program: University Library and Tech Center
Project Area: 77,600 sq.ft. ( 7200 sq.m.)
Model: 1/4 = 1’-0”; 3D print and milled MDF

Chao Di Su Fellowship - Top Reserach Project (Thesis) of graduating class

The “column” was expolored as a studio-wide topic, initially reserarched as a group, and pursued as individual proposals in the form of a library building.

The investigation focused on the frame, studying the transition between columns through manipulation of mass. The project utlizes a square-grid array, with the column mass and morphology developing a field of autonomous but unified elements within a regular array. As cells are aggregated together, a discrete column is formed via an accumulation of the four corners, which are joined with filleted transitions to form a sculpted whole. This creates a double reading of the space as both the interior cell and the space around the column masses. This column articulation thus defines spaces that oscillates between the renaissance notion of figured space and the modernist conception of expansive, free space. The column profiles consist of 6 in, 1 ft, 4 ft, and 8 ft - wide sections. Thus the rnage of columns profiles is a slender tube at one extreme, and large enough to absorb programmatic elements like stairs and bathrooms at the other.

Unrolled Elevation
Unrolled Elevation



My interest lies in the relationship of columns to each other as well as in their ability for spatial definition via their distribution and morphology. My investigation began through a selected group of case studies and in identifying columns by their apparent formal autonomy.

For example, in the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris by Pier Luigi Nervi the columns are oriented toward each other morphologically, yet remain visually independent, whereas their regular paired linear array allows for the definition of a hallway. At the Tama Arts Library by Toyo Ito, however, the employed arches visually unite a column with the next, whereas the curved linear array redefines the rectilinear four sided bay.

Gothic cathedrals developed the use of colonnettes, or slim columns that independently are nonstructural. However, via their aggregation, the columns become a new distinct whole from individual elements, as can be seen in the Rouen Cathedral. Furthermore their aggregation allowed for the column to express an orientation or sidedness, further defining the separation between the aisle and the nave with varying size and density of aggregation.

In works such as Neimeyer’s Tripoli Fairgrounds pavilion, Tama Arts Library, as well as a number of Islamic Mosques, the arch is coupled with the column to further define space, emphasizing its definition in three dimensions and unifying the column with both wall-like and matrix expression.




Column Matrix

In the Bibliotheque Nationale, Henri Labrouste can be said to have invented modernist space at the center of the hall. The space is cellular at the periphery where the columns are engaged and the space is striated. However, at the center space flows freely around the attenuated columns. With a different approach, Tama Arts Library cleverly arranged furniture to suppress the reading of a bay along with its initial denial of a four-sided bay. Furniture weaves in and out, at once within a bay, and around a column, yet denying any axial prominence in its irregular curved linear array. Within my project I attempt to create a double reading of the bay as both a cellular proliferation of figural spaces as well as a 3D field or matrix with the character depending on the circulation diagram that cuts through it. The circulation and furniture are arranged in a way where the classical experience of a bay is either subverted or reinforced. The movement is either linear through a cell or centripetal around the column itself. Building on the Gothic approach of sidedness, directionality is further subverted to the diagonal via mass accumulation and aggregation to create spatial directionality.


With thorough research of columns in history, we broke down the arrays and column morphologies into categories. We then mapped column vs. array type for a number of chosen buildings from historical periods, as seen above. The periods are color coded to show trends.

Research performed in collaboration with: Heather Roberge, Maria Sviridova, Kim Daul, Julie Ehrlich, Jacob Bloom, Yuan Dong, Ji Qu, and Emma Price



© Maria Sviridova 2022