F'11 Thesis: Matthew Storrie

Matthew Storrie
M.Arch Thesis Fall 2011
Faculty Advisor: Stan Allen
Project Title:  From the Waist Up: Studies in Completion


To call a building incomplete is to declare its invested materials and labor as insufficient, stagnant and useless. For lack of financing, over 1200 New York construction sites have stalled, currently outlasting the city’s capacity to build. Intended to be temporary, the lingering construction paraphernalia contradicts zoning laws, hijacking scale, density, material, and use from the control of the city. At this massive scale, the stalled construction sites form a second coincident city operating at a pace entirely contradictory to active urban life.

Negotiation between these two speeds forces the the city to trade completion for choreography. Too valuable to demolish, yet too inefficient to complete, these stalled construction sites currently offer a unique stage for urban transformation.

This thesis recasts New York’s urban ruins as occupied spectacles, not for historical pastiche, but out of a desire to invest in a temporary redistribution of public agencies. Beginning with a new joint collaboration between the Office of Citywide Event Coordination and Management and the Department of Buildings, the coordination of all stalled construction schedules tethers administrative reorganization with physical construction. The ubiquitous signals of construction -- welding, craning, imploding and razing -- become a synchronized, physical sketch of an uncertain future.