Issues in the development of a formal theme, or, "how to make a building look good"


'Formal grammars' can be constructed from a body of designs. These grammars can be utilized as style guides, first by cataloguing and assessing the importance of certain redundant or novel formal attributes in a design/body-of-design-variations, and second by serving as a compositional 'rule-book' that facilitates the completion of designs-in-progress or allowing the extrapolation and therefore stylistic change in design variations. Here, the architecture of Rice University served as a context in which to analyze, construct, and deploy formal grammars. This work explored the descriptions and limits of style and typology, specifically with reference to the design and addition of future buildings. A central question was, how much novely/entropy (within a framework of order/familiarity) can a composition sustain before losing unity, before becoming a new type? Novelty and redundancy figured preeminently in the task of describing formal variations, and in the very assumption of a formal grammar

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This paper was published in DSpace at Rice University.

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