Architecture Program


Date of this Version

May 2007


M.Arch Thesis, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, May 2007


Methodology: Agriculture is as indigenous to Nebraska as tall prairie grass. It was the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1850 that made over 10 million acres accessible to farmers. Dually, with the installment of the modern railroad, a network for the movement of Nebraska goods was founded. All this could not have been possible without the evolution of the agricultural machinery by modern invention. At the birth of the state, the steam tractor (an adaptation derived from locomotion) was a modern farmhand. This piece of machinery (that only pulled) spawned many tributaries of agricultural equipment today. GPS driven combines, plows, balers, and mowers are all off-chutes from the introduction of machinery to agriculture.

Without invention, we would not have progress. By studying objects around a site on a Macro and Micro level, I believe the prior life of the site can be expressed in an alternate way. Not by studying a place in mind, but studying the other existing and often ignored objects that evolved through time--their site. This notion of site is not the physical location, but the defining constraints of a system. On the Macro level, cars, trains, electronics, service lines, and many other modes of transportation serve as ideal measurements. However, on the Micro level, the smallest mechanical part can give clues to a greater association to its omnitude. Discovering the macro and micro agricultural intricacies of the site along with an understanding of the direction of invention will help reveal design opportunities along a historically intact vector.

Process: By identifying the machine as a self-sufficient entity and then dissecting its associative parts, I assume a better understanding of its function within the agricultural spectrum will emerge. If we zoom into the agricultural machinery, even down to the smallest machine parts, we will find many necessary components for agriculture, but at a variety of scales.

What story can a singular part on the micro scale tell us? If we find a piece of a machine, we can start to manufacture adjoining parts based on the mechanical language of the part. Each part has visual connections and residual traces of adjoining parts. We first see traces of jigsaw puzzle-like qualities and flat edges to the likeness of the adjacent part. The bolt holes and pin connections of the two parts align to complete the puzzle. This is the language of the machine, the ability to physically communicate to the system. Each individual part is a precedent to the next. If we applied a random part that’s only logic is to attach to the previous and communicate at the micro level, would this be a chaotic disaster or a beautiful opus of assemblage?

To further consider the role of smaller constituent components in architecture, let’s compare this to modern-American timber construction. The detail of the parts has been subsumed. A nail is not an integral part, but one of many to form a “democratic” system, rather than an “autocratic”. Conversely, by examining a machine part, we can see evidence of its unique placement or membership to a greater whole.

Macro/Micro: With the results of the process, I intend to investigate the abstract relationships of Nebraska by discerning the chiasmic relationship between the Micro and Macro site. The site is a location of an event constrained by what is adjacent to it. This is the parallel between the Micro and Macro site, the influence of accompanying objects that coexist in the greater system. The Micro site of a machine piece contains clues to its placement. The Micro site of each piece is just as inspirational as an empty portion of land or wilderness. The examples in figure 2 express the definition of “site” on the two levels. Even though one is an aerial view of a conventional building site, and another is a shattered engine block, we can analyze both based upon their constraints and boundaries.

The Micro and Macro scale offer a solution from the study of agricultural equipment that has had site influences over time. The rigorous dissecting of the sites at both levels will voice architectural motives to inspire a more comprehensive solution. How will the engagement of the two levels react? Does the precision and exactness of the Micro level push the Macro level to an overly imperial design? Does the lax wilderness and haphazard organization of the Macro procure instability at the micro level? Or do both carry clues as if pieces of a genetic DNA and feed-off one another in a harmonious balance? We know both levels exist, but the strands that connect them have yet to be exploited.

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