Architecture in Motion

Arabic architecture has taught us an invaluable lesson. It favors walking; it is on foot that we can best see the unfolding of architectural arrangements.”
—Le Corbusier

Rolling Through Knowlton Hall

COLUMBUS—When I shot my first video of Knowlton Hall, Ohio State University’s large, spatially and sectionally complex “encyclopedia” of architectural effect, I was limited both by the resolving power of my camera and my inability to move that camera through the building. Architecture, perhaps more than all other arts, requires movement of the participant. It is primarily through movement that our understanding of architecture becomes less formal, less idealized, and more experiential. Compared to our involvement when reading plan and section, or viewing axonometric drawing or photographs, it is through movement that we best understand architecture as promenade, as an unfolding of space through time.

These dolly shots, taken during the summer while school was out of session, allowed me to move through the building unencumbered by student occupants or their projects. Lacking the typical spatial hierarchy most often seen in architecture, Knowlton Hall’s spaces flow into one another, relying on changes in section rather than enclosure for separation. This dramatic transparency is most apparent while strolling through the building, as changes in viewpoint reveal spatial and structural relationships obscured to us only moments earlier.

Knowlton Hall has been criticized for its limited palette of materials, and the lack of warmth and color that result. The interior surfaces, primarily concrete, are matched with exterior walls painted white. But the monocromaticism of the interior is enlivened by the use of multistory glazing, including the rectangular niche surrounding the five orders of classical columns. This interplay of light, shade, and shadow, while perhaps most prominent in the space below, occurs throughout the building, from the first story Main Space, through the third-story studios and four-floor library.

This 13-second, 390-frame time-lapse video required over 1,700 individual photographs, taken at five second intervals for more than an hour and a half. Tripling the number of shots taken versus the actual number of frames in the video allows a far smoother blending between frames. The result is less flickering between frames, and less need to adjust the levels by hand using After Effects in post production.