"Lightfall", the exhibition, is first and foremost an architectural alteration of the Harvard Graduate School of Design’s lobby gallery.

The original intention had been to cut an opening in the main exhibition wall and to install a long model of the Lightfall perpendicularly. Viewers would have peered into the model without knowing the extent of its embedment in the storage space behind the wall. 

When this intervention was not permitted by the administration, the only alternative was to build a distorted version of the idea out in front of the existing wall. The new wall is split into two angled parts with the model, contained in a vitrine, lodged precisely between.  The vitrine appears to be compressed or held precariously in place, half in and out of a wall cavity made all the more illusory owing to mirrors that make the ceiling appear to extend behind the divided wall indefinitely.

The vitrine is skewed in order that its longitudinal axis not protrude unreasonably into the gallery space. Ultimately, the whole plan of the wall and the vitrine is caused by the spatial limitations both behind and in front of the model. 

The initial intention and its distortion is altogether analogous to the circumstances, site and plan of the Amir Building and its lightfall.  As such, the exhibition exemplifies relationships between concepts and buildings hypothesized in numerous foundational projects of the GSD’s first-year core pedagogy of architecture, including the "Hidden Room”, “Lodged House,” and the “Lock Building.”

Diagram narrative:

1. A hole is cut in the back of Gund Hall gallery in order for a model of the lightfall to be embedded in the wall and thus be seen only as a completely interiorized space when viewed through a peep hole.

2. The model slides forward to the midpoint of its sides, dividing the wall in two. Due to its illusory interior geometry, the depth of the model is indiscernible when seen through the peep hole. It may appear to be only half its actual depth and thus entirely in front of the wall. In fact, half the model occupies a hidden room.

3. The concrete wall is not allowed to be punctured for several other practical reasons. Therefore, the model is ejected entirely, taking the outer surface of the two walls with it and consuming too much of the gallery space.

4. As if being pushed back, the model is forced to pivot asymmetrically. The two walls rotate and stretch accordingly. The depth of the space behind the walls is obscured by mirrors. Thus the interior depth of the lightfall model remains inscrutable.

Design: Preston Scott Cohen

Team: Preston Scott Cohen, Ashley Merchant, Dan Borelli, David Zimmerman-Stuart

Physical model: Jonathan Lott

Schedule:  2012