LA Cineplex

Studio / Spring 2020 / Year 5 / Rice Architecture / Professor Ajay Manthripragada

  • Movie theaters (18 theaters, 2,073 seats), box office (x2), concessions, lobby, public deck
  • Arcade, bowling alley, billiards hall, comedy club / karaoke bar, gallery
  • Underground parking garage

Mat-buildings have been defined within the discipline as having general order, compositional flexibility, and woven horizontality, producing a tartan-like fabric of implied systematic growth that privileges the horizontal. The project, LA Cineplex, is informed by these qualities of mat-building for the design of a mat cineplex, sited in Los Angeles.

Compositionally, the cineplex is a checkered gradient. A series of walls infilled with a checkerboard of cinemas produces a plaid plan of theaters and courtyards. This weave of ticketed theaters with open public plazas generates new forms of social association and collective space. A checkerboard of inside and outside, dark cinemas and daylit courtyards, intertwine movie theaters with public plazas for a mat cineplex. The cineplex becomes a “horizontal weave of programmatic and circulatory elements, a play of solids and voids, stabilized within a legible geometric order” (Timothy Hyde, How to Construct an Architectural Genealogy).

The two levels of the cineplex, ground lobby and elevated deck, are connected by punctured voids. One of the primary problems of the mat is that of light and air reaching the depths of mat-buildings, presenting a proportional typological question. In this case, the perforation of the checkerboard brings natural light into the depths of the lobby. Meanwhile, programs such as the movie theaters, arcade, billiards hall, bowling alley, and comedy club / karaoke bar are well suited to the mat-building type, as they are all programs that embrace dimness and darkness. These entertainment programs, along with lobby programs such as box office and concessions, occupy the stepped underbelly of the theaters above, such that the ceiling is experienced as a stepped landscape.

Overall, the checkered patterning of the cineplex plays with the part-to-whole understanding of the project and its mat-ness. The checkerboard is a unifying device yet it reinforces discrete parts as well. The project’s formal cohesion and compositional clarity facilitates the perception of the whole as an independent entity with simultaneous differentiation of parts within: it is both a checkerboard (whole) and checkered cinemas and courtyards (discrete parts). Like Hyde describes in How to Construct an Architectural Genealogy: the mat “demands a legible and orderly system . . . provided by a grid or another regular geometric pattern, answering the call for labyrinthe clarity.”

Industrial Recreation

Studio / Fall 2019 / Year 5 / Rice Architecture Paris / Professors Nicholas Gilliland + John Casbarian

All work completed in partnership with Hannah Wang.

Wholesale Distribution Center / Recreation Center
  • Wholesale markets (produce, fish, poultry), warehouses, produce ripening facility, plant nursery, truck loading
  • Sports courts, gymnasium, track, boxing ring, spectator seating, concessions, locker rooms, sauna, ice baths, boardwalk, pavilions, park

In a turn since the Industrial Revolution, places of industry are being pushed out of the very cities they once spawned. France’s wholesale distribution centers, marchés d’intérêt national (MIN), have withdrawn from city centers. The 37-acre Bordeaux MIN is now the only remaining MIN in France within a central urban location. Industrial Recreation contends that industrial infrastructures have a role to play within cities by re-thinking the public accessibility of logistical architecture, re-conceptualizing spaces of industry as urban amenities. The MIN’s market halls are conjugated with a recreation center as an example of public dual-use of an industrial site integrated with the urban fabric. Simultaneously functioning as a porous social space as well as a secure logistical node, Industrial Recreation offers a hybridization between logistical space and the urban amenities and mobility of the public.

2020 Margaret Everson-Fossi Fellowship, Rice Architecture
2019 Excellence in Architecture Student Design Merit Award, AIA Fort Worth

Model photos by Nash Baker

Gardener’s Library

Studio / Spring 2018 / Year 4 / Rice Architecture / Professor Piergianna Mazzocca

Gardening Library / Greenhouse / Pavilion
  • Seed library, toolshed, lawn mower rental, multi-purpose assembly room
  • Demonstration greenhouses and garden beds, workshops
  • Pavilion, farmers market

In New Orleans, community gardens have been deployed to address post-Katrina conditions, serving dual purposes of infilling and reactivating vacant, abandoned lots while simultaneously addressing the city’s food desert problems. Gardener’s Library reconsiders the community garden from a site for the production of crops to a source for the reproduction of knowledge, reformatting the community garden as a library, with the implication that the garden-library enables the proliferation of gardens throughout the city.

Sited within a neighborhood of shotgun housing, the project infills the vacant lots of an entire block. The form follows the pre-existing formal repertoire of the neighborhood: shotgun housing, in combination with another established type: the greenhouse. Two parallel bars housing the library intersect a repetition of greenhouse frames, enclosed on one side as greenhouses and open on the other side as urban pavilion. Constructed of steel I-beams and cinderblocks, the project embraces repetition and economy. Voids and gaps appear throughout, from prominent axes to more understated moments such as drainage channels, double-columns, reveals, and the holes of the cinderblocks themselves. The open pavilion can be understood as a kind of spatial gap, presenting an architecture of emptiness and void as the very thing which offers urban opportunity.

Ultimately, Gardener’s Library is interested in the conflation of production with the reproduction of knowledge such that a garden can become a library. The project becomes more sustainable as a source rather than a site, as a collection for production instead of production for collection, exchanging the community garden for a community of gardens.

Composite Cafeforum

Studio / Spring 2017 / Year 3 / Rice Architecture / Professor Troy Schaum

Cafeteria / Cultural Center
  • Cafeteria seating for adjacent market, coffee shop
  • Plaza, library, computer lab, gallery, cinema, auditorium, administration

Composite Cafeforum interrogates properties of iconicity and legibility with the design of a cafeteria and cultural center in Mexico City. Sitting on the linear Plaza Santo Domingo, the project deploys the “L” as an icon in the city. Through the aggregation of twelve L’s rotating and flipping to produce a line of curves and corners across the site, the project plays with the legibility of the L’s as singular figures and the composite whole as a singular form.

The concave nature of the L automatically produces an implied enclosure — the arms cupping negative space. Together the collection of L’s frame public space to produce four pocket plazas. Each pocket retains a distinct identity: fountain, grove, sunken palm, and corner cafe. These cupped courtyards speak to Mexico’s architectural heritage of courtyard spaces, however unlike the traditional internalized courtyard the project merges the plaza with the courtyard type, presenting a new imagination of plaza-courtyard spaces which are simultaneously embedded within the architecture yet continuous with the urban fabric. While the ground level maintains a continuous line of L’s, behaving as a passage (unique in that it is both a destination and circulation), the upper level of L’s separate and rotate to cantilever, now instead of cupping public space the L’s bridge and reach out to the public.

Cafeteria seating occupies the ground level of the cafeforum, acting as an extension of the neighboring building’s market. The upper level hosts additional seating as well as a library, computer lab, and administration. The underground houses two auditoriums and a sunken courtyard. Together the twelve L’s speak to ideas of iconicity in Mexico City through the erosion of the street wall and production of plaza-courtyards, engaging the relationships between public space, urban passage, and the performance of a cultural institution.


Studio / Fall 2015 / Year 2 / Rice Architecture / Professor Lluis Linan

Carl Andre Museum
  • Floor-galleries, cafe, library, gift shop, amphitheater, administration

    Carl Andre is a conceptual artist known for his minimalist sculptures and floor installations. Always sitting directly on the ground, his pieces inhabit space and invite a physical experience of art. Visitors are encouraged to meander through, step over, and walk across his pieces. Floored! presents a museum dedicated to Andre’s art, investigating the design of a museum for viewing floors instead of walls.

    Echoing the object-field arrangements of Andre’s work, the museum is a configuration of independent programmatic volumes situated on a shared plinth, including lobbies, cafe, library, and administration. Six galleries for the permanent collection are sunken into the ground while remaining open to the plinth above. These visual voids provide an overhead look at the floor pieces, acting as downward viewing portals to generate a double-reality where the works can be viewed simultaneously from above as objects and experienced from within as fields. A seventh sunken gallery provides a space for temporary exhibitions and guest installations.

    The sunken galleries are tailored to the dimensions of the permanent collection, cropping tightly to each piece. Active participation is immediately fostered: as visitors enter each space they find themselves already within or on top of the works, subverting the typical precious, distanced museum experience. The remainder of the museum is fully underground flowing around the framed sunken galleries as a continuous open space from which visitors can shift from inside to out, from open plan to tight crop, experiencing various field and floor conditions.

    Permanent Collection: Glarus Copper Galaxy, 1995 / Cuts, 1967 / ALomoCU, 2000 / Black Wholes, 2005 / Aluminum Clouds, 2001 / Fair Oaks, 1968
    © Lara Hansmann 2020