The University of Massachusetts Amherst
HFA - College of Humanities & Fine Arts view HFA submenu
Section Menu


Jordan Kanter  |  foundCITY

Reception: Thursday, September 7th 4:30-6:00pm (Gallery Talk 5:15pm)

This exhibition is the culmination of nine months of research that brings together student work and design explorations investigating the relationship between the drawing and the built form. This research begins from Robin Evans’ famous observation that the greatest generative potential – and thus the most salient space of design authorship – lies not in the abstract, graphic operations of the drawing, nor in the concrete realization of the building, but rather in the translation between these two modes of architectural production. Expanding on this observation, this project explores how buildings and drawings can be brought into a more intimate relationship, with all the tension, interference, and entanglement that intimacy implies. 

This project offers an alternative to the current obsession, exemplified by BIM software, wherein the drawing (as digital representation) strives to become a building; a virtual copy of the physical structure-to-be. Here, the built form strives to become a drawing, seeking to retain abstract quality and graphic language. This project exploits the unique relationship between the unrolled elevation and the massing envelope. Each can be constructed from the other through a process of folding and unfolding, promoting an exchange that links abstract patterns across spatial dimensions. Both are presented here, as a double image, each as much the project as the other, posing the question: Can we inhabit the space between drawing and form? 

The project’s materials – PVC-coated mesh, clear vinyl, reflective mylar applique – were selected for their graphic quality and apparent immateriality – vibrant color, gridded lines, refracting and reflecting surfaces. The goal was to map pattern onto pattern, to overlap, multiply and distort. And yet, each of these materials brought their own narratives and provenances: mesh coated for use in lobster traps, designed both to withstand the marine environment and to attract lobsters (different colors are preferred in different seasons); vinyl designed for boat sails and canopies; mylar for car customization. Despite the appearance of abstraction, each of these materials are imbued with their own coordinates of desire – that of the lobster and the lobsterman, and that of car and yacht culture. In various small, but not unimportant ways, these lines of desire are smuggled into the project, nudging us towards what might be the true ambition of this project: to explore the space between abstraction and desire.  

Exhibition Team: Benjamin Leinfelder (project lead), Josephine Wermuth, Gianfranco Pozzolini, Patrick Philbrook, Xiaoyan Elena Lang, Rutuja Girish Patil

With Support From: UMASS Department of Architecture, UMASS College of Humanities and Fine Arts, Riverdale Mills Corporation



University of Massachusetts
John W Olver Design Building #180
551 North Pleasant Street
Amherst MA

Hours: Monday – Friday 9AM to 4PM
Closed on school holidays


Jordan Kanter