PentHouse

          Jason Smith, Dale Suttle – 2012


This project is a folly intended to be built in Socrates Sculpture Park. The main purpose of a folly is to orient and focus one’s attention on important views and paths through a park or garden. Being along the river in Queens, the primary view in Socrates Park is across to the island of Manhattan. The inspiration for this folly came from this distinctive city skyline. The folly places itself within the pattern of the distant buildings, revealing a direct formal relationship to the skyline. Here the folly appears to be a fractal of the city, a repeated sawtooth pattern overlapping and collapsing in on itself. However, the relationship to the city skyline is not only formal, but systemic as well. The folly was developed using a similar logic to the growth of the city. It is an organic growth within a rigid grid. The patterns of solid and void are an emergent result of this simple organic growth, just as the pattern of the skyline is not explicitly designed, but emerged from the organic way in which the city grew. The pieces that are placed in the grid are called pentaminos. They are similar to the tetraminos seen in the game Tetris, except that they are made up of five congruent blocks instead of four. The challenge of the classic pentamio puzzle comes from the pentamio’s resistance to be organized into uniform patterns. It is this quality that we use to generate a pattern of solids and voids which reflect those of the city.