Steel Frame Structure Studies

Studio project at The Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), instructor John Enright, 2014

with Diastika Lokesworo

This project seeks to produce from an aggregated surface module an educational building for the University of Chicago, located within the Loop along the Chicago River. In manifesting the abstract properties of a module into the accumulated whole of a piece of architecture, the project tackles questions of structural/mechanical articulation in respect to the inhabitants of a building, circulation and awareness of site and context in terms more than purely linguistic.

As part of the program, the building was to contain a series of ecological spaces for the study of various types of plants. This provocation of nature cum architecture cum urbanity became a topic of interest for the development and conceptualization of a building as an architectural entirety.

A series of written pieces developed in conjunction with the architecture itself which do not necessarily relate directly but place the minds of the designers within the game of architectural production and explicate a series of investigations into what it means to instantiate any piece of architecture within a given place and time.

Animation showing the main circulatory spaces of the building, including the slippages of space around the form's curved surfaces between public and back-of-house areas

Form is No Longer a Valid Means by which to Resist

As a new generation emerging into the seemingly vapid condition or architecture, how are we to resist? This is not to say that architecture ipso facto ought to resist, but rather it indicates the necessary stagnation which ought to point us towards this goal.

Around the Western World, it appears that a myriad of architects have come to concern themselves with issues which we have over the past few generations sculpted to be “formal”. Investigations of color, effect, form and the like have left architecture marginalized, self-enamored. Architecture stares mindlessly into the shimmering lake of its own convolution.

Meanwhile, the citizens of the Western world continue to live obliviously, or at least ignorantly, to any of these disciplinary prerogatives. Does the average human being concern his- or herself with the precise meaning of a corner? Does your mother ruminate before bed about the meaning of a floor’s thickness in relation to the thinness of the wall beside it? Probably not.

Architecture obviously is no slave to the demands of those outside its realms, and, as any profession, it delivers to society the tasks which society itself cannot be expected to muster the adequate time to concern itself with (each profession does the task which it is assigned because everyone else is just too busy).

Plans, entrance level and upper floors

This, though, is no excuse for a complete involution of the profession. In lieu of embracing the shifts in time, architecture has become preoccupied with a cyclical (if not oedipal) agenda in which each generation must kill its father.

Were you raised by the Modernists? You must resist the grid; you must transfix simple reading and abstraction with ambiguity and reference. The Postmodernists? Reference is your nemesis, the digital your vanguard. This pathetic to-and-fro now appears less like progress and more like belittling self-denial.

Pertaining to this very moment in architecture, we find ourselves straddling an era of formal obsession. Strangely enough, we have been coaxed to believe that the formalism of architecture lies in form. While we might take this as a nascent condition of the field, one could raise the inclination that the very essence of architecture is not purely in the absolute form of a building, but something deeper.

Perhaps, form is just the medium for the expression of intentionality in a building. Architecture claws its fingernails along a chalkboard of “form” as literature might profess its obligation to ink. That is to say, architecture has confused the medium for the message.

So, form no longer possesses inroads which productively allow architecture to wage a war of attrition against its detractors. Who are these silent foes? We have been taught that they are the ignorant client, and yet the laughable extent to which the ‘bruiting’ architect goes to assure that his ceiling’s depth matches the walls around it, or some other ridiculous formal endgame, renders the field both incompetent and impotent.


In the criticism of the supposedly empty nature of Modern Architecture, an even emptier state of contemporary architecture reveals itself. To perceive architecture purely on its terms of geometry and form are to vacuum the potentials of understanding the far deeper meanings which attach most of us to the discipline. It might be posited that most people do not actively experience their architecture in the moment of confronting it, but rather use their encounters with contemporary instantiations of built form to draw on a much larger set of connotations.

Plan vignettes of landscaping strategies which provide space not only for softscaping but curated pathways to the building, leveraging the remaining areas of the site such that they provide the context with a semi-public park and allow connection not only to the adjacent riverside walkway but around the facility itself

These form the basis of a wide-swung pool of memories from which we are enabled to understand and to compartmentalize the world before us. While it is clear that some exceptional experiences of architecture can reform these memories themselves in the moment of their experience (that is to say, they function to create new experiences as they are processed by the eye), an equally valid set of architectural moves hinge on the deepest parts of our nostalgia.

For example, Michael Arad’s design for the voids at the World Trade Center Memorial explicitly elicit the nostalgia of those who experience them. Obviously, a visceral phenomenology prevails in the exactitude of the moment when one stands by their edge or takes in the roar of the falling laps of water, but it cannot be ignored that their primary visual impression is driven by the recognition of an estranged condition at the site, specifically referencing the gargantuan nature of what once stood above their phantasmal profiles.

Elevational analyses comparisons of proportional relationships in large American buildings around the turn of the 20th century with particular focus on Midwestern architects' adaptation of proportional relationships in Neoclassical architecture to suit the entirely new building typology of the tall office building

This method for approach the reading of a form relies specifically on the form’s meaningfulness, which begs an immediacy of the architectural prerogative to deconstruct what the piece of architecture implicates within a specific condition. It is the most efficient perspective to investigate the justifications, in terms cultural, of an architecture’s genesis.

Fallacies of Historical Reenactment

We entrust in cartographers the task of cataloging our physical existence, having itself been presented to us in a form beyond our comprehension – reality. Given GPS and vector-based mapping technologies of the 21st century, this expectation (or rather, trust) we invest in those whom we charge the business of delineating the physicality of the world is completely within reason. Somewhat complacently, though, we forget that such assurances do not necessarily pertain to those people before our time. With little so much as the first airplane or otherwise capable technology, cartographers and surveyors once had only the faintest abilities to inscribe successfully the realities of their conditions. This apparent condition becomes heavily problematic in contemporary attempts to resurrect the past sui generis. Whether driven by nostalgia or history (simply a more politically correct phrasing of the former, anyhow), those who desire to relive what has been forgotten face a challenge insurmountable due to inherent discrepancies of historical technique and misguided principles in archival processes.

Speaking architecturally, these challenges become clearest when interest groups harp to the collective zeitgeist of nostalgic longing. It would seem that many have fled the uninhabitable present, settling instead for a reanimated corpse of the past the likes to which even Disneyland itself could only in its most fraudulent dreams aspire. Their motivations are another contention of problematic origins, issues themselves of their own right. Nonetheless, regarding the physical and social instantiations of these illegitimate children of cultural promiscuity, several presumptions (read: complacencies) abound between us and the aforementioned goal.

First, we easily find ingrained in the current quest for the reconstruction of what was an assumed investment of history in the form of maps, photos and other facsimiles of bygone eras. We must question the subliminal intentions nascent in these documents. Is reality itself predicated on a map or survey, even in their highest forms of fidelity to so-called facts? More often than not, we might find the inextricable characteristic of such things as completely lacking the human experiences which verify any form of true reality. A map of the sea will never present the feeling of wind on ones face – that sudden provocation that one ought to turn towards its source and gaze across the expanse of water just over the ship’s side. Such sensorial engagements of place and being are slanderously incapacitated as utterly devoid by the mathematical and judicial efforts of cartographers.

Next, we must engage the technological void between the present and the past (particularly those times before the Industrial Revolution) to remove ourselves from the observations we have accumulated and presumed about representation and cataloguing alike. We take for granted the fact that a GPS on the cellphones in our pockets will instantly render us in a space paradoxically both immediate and foreign to what we actively perceive. This plain space between the perceptual exploits of our eyes and the somewhat abstracted construction of the world in our maps (that is to say, the real three-dimensional vision and the virtual two-dimensional representation) belies the intersection of contemporary beliefs about technology and reality. As the two become ever more intertwined, we must retain the ability to recede collectively inasmuch as we are required to understand how we abide before the world. GPS has in all effects deified Man. Long withheld the possibility to look down on itself in nearly complete objective flatness, humanity has outsourced its perception of existence to a set of technocratic eyes in the outer reaches of Earth’s atmosphere. These machines gaze down us, vicariously allowing civilization to catalogue its physical condition in a fidelity before unknown.

Lacking such resources, the humanity of the past (particularly after the Humanist fascination with reproducing in high detail Man’s engagement with the external world) could never experience what we might retroactively denote to be “the bigger picture”. What we find in their surveys and photographs are little more than snippets of what was. The full panorama of their actuality is beyond our capabilities to recover. Thus, no objective reifications of the past can occur if we forget that these documents upon which we hold indefinite reliance are bias in their inscriptions about the condition of things that were. Surveyors and cartographers of prior centuries lacked the ability to inscribe their reality in such high fidelity as to fulfill our unbeknownst qualifications. Obviously, the level of accuracy behind their information must be taken with in cautious retrospective. As if waiting to hear the melodies of a symphony from an improperly tuned instrument, we have misplaced the delicate intricacies of artifact and context.

Even if we cast aside these potential lapses in our inscriptive agency – that is to say, the sheer ability of the human to reproduce his reality – which were available to our predecessors, a clear dichotomy of definitions presents itself in the translation we expect from maps and surveys to physical reality. Engorging this temporal misstep is the fact that such documents are usually of legal descent. They are inherently directed in their representational goals towards capturing their respective chronologies in terms of property rights, ownership and punitive boundaries, among other judicial prerogatives. The immediate (incomplete) instantiation of these select qualities could produce a portrait of every potential detail once extant, yet one which lacks the vital facets of human interaction with reality. For example, anyone’s childhood home could, in theory, be rebuilt to exact specifications given the proper amount of merciless architectural documentation (photographs, dimensions, drawings et cetera), but the product of such trivialities would be completely lacking. It would invariably become a Frankenstein of quasi-architectural materials, unable to encapsulate the true nature of what one had experienced in one’s childhood. The etymological ramifications of the distinction between a mere house and a proper home would rear forth with unforgiving tangibility.

What contemporary historic societies and their nostalgia-tarnished patrons together unwittingly seem to want to create is not the past in full truth but an uncanny regurgitation of a narrow-minded retrospective onto it through which we can repopulate its misunderstood entrails with our entirely incompatible cultural milieus – embalmed amusement parks of irresponsible historicism and foolish arrogance. Property lines and egress routes will forever be unable to capture the human conditions of architecture and urbanity, themselves inherently tied to the esoteric properties of the present. It would be appreciably just of these Luddites to admit that what they present is only a zombified curation of the past, rather than a complete resurrection.

Without understanding the consequences of repainting the past in the monochromatic tones of legal documents and momentary (we might also remember: often staged) photographs, we might even unknowingly stumble upon less promising characteristics which history has in the progression between “then” and “now” thankfully overwritten. Victorian social hierarchies, impoverished living conditions, unsanitary public health and horrendous wealth distribution are but a few of the less fondly remembered antiquities we risk instantiating. Then again, if we choose to censor them from the curated objects we anachronistically dislodge, we sidestep our very goal at outset to reproduce in total honesty what was. More hazardously, we sail close to rewriting what we do currently have and can actually entrust of history, bringing well within possibility the negation of the responsibility we carry as a society to learn from our prior mistakes.

Finally, it is perhaps impossible to resurrect what was. Even the previous moment of our current existence in this very second is purely speculation. The verified ‘100% guaranteed’ awareness of anything is forever chained to the present. If we were to remember what even we experienced some time ago, it would lack every nuance which makes visceral experience so pleasurable. The tastes, smells and overall cognizance of the fleeting present would escape us in our attempts to capture their memories from our archival psyches. These cadavers of our collective mentality would render themselves eerily mistaken if we reproached them. For instance, what a horrid experience it would be to discover the necessarily incorporated Ethernet ports and power plugs in a building we were promised was of the 1700s. Like the scars of a botched plastic surgery, these blemishes on the countenance of historical resurrection are symptomatic of the collision in interests between different times. The intentions of any society centuries ago would find themselves hard-pressed to nest within contemporaneity. These inexact renditions of our naive perspective onto the past are simply temporal estrangements which, as such, cannot be engaged on the level of historical fact which some have notwithstanding invested in them.

These insecurities indicative of the task in reproducing the past should not deter from nostalgia. Rather, they indicate that true nostalgia would endorse a more fruitful renovation of the evidence we can gather within the accepted blindness we possess in retrospection. Culturally, greater gains are stood in actively engaging the condition of society and its myriad constituencies on terms less literal than currently enacted. To rebuild the walls of a demolished house is not to resurrect the infinite experiences they substantiated as a home. In this way, blank reconstructions are almost insulting in their disregard for the true assets of our societies. If we were honestly to approach the conditions (both histrionic and factual) which tie us with what once was, this banal curatorial endgame would conclude. Such a positioning of our relationship with the past posits that we ought to embrace cultural literacy over mindless conservation.

Place and Its Identity

Everything in Coastal New England exists in subordination to the Atlantic. As the waves gradually wear away our beaches, dunes and hidden towns, it seems that the ultimate inevitably of proceeds into the sea. Simply, the ocean is the be-all end-all of life. Existence is defined as a shrouded haze approaching, unusually, as from land to sea. Only in its wake, as we stroll deeper past our knees into the surf, will the nuances of the identities we once held become illuminated. At this instant, our eyes nearly overtaken by the bubbles of the waves’ crest, everything will be discovered and transcended. Yet this is a fleeting moment of enlightenment, only true in its realization that immediately thereafter we acquiesce anything we might have learnt in order finally to become one with the ocean.

It is perhaps this impenetrable wall of water to our right that has always bound our limbs. Each generation persists only while knowing well that it too will one day become part of the green expanse. Like the whitecaps of a winded autumn afternoon along the shore, it is nothing more than an inconsequential decoration, a slight imprint of the forces at hand in one given second within one square foot of surface among so many more.

I do not find it unimportant that hordes of New Englanders, as well as so many others living along the Atlantic, choose to have their ashes scattered into this swollen sea. These people are humbled by the force which infinitely grasps their horizons. As if propelled into the waves by the realization of their impairment to life, they come to accept the immanence of a nondescript yet dignified end at the bottom of the Atlantic.

Known to be violent than the other oceans of the world, a certain respect to the timelessness has fostered in these depths of water. Those who pass the shores, into the waves, know they join a place among many thousands of others, nameless to the shifts of time which cross them by. The ocean’s massive green carpet becomes the canopy over generations of graves, a constantly sinking anchor of the time past which every second exerts its mighty pull on the present.

Life becomes a series of frames passing one by. They flash before one’s eyes in a schizophrenic manner which, linked by the permanence of the sea, only reveal in their tiny blurred passage that everything somehow connects itself back around to its predecessor.

When Air France Flight 447 went down in 2009, crashing into the Equatorial Atlantic late in the night during otherwise routine operation, it brought with it 228 passengers, most of whom would be forever entombed in the ocean. After nearly two years of searching, the location of the resting place for both of the jet’s wreckage and many of its ill-fated passengers was revealed to be along a desolate slop of mountainous terrain deep below the surface of the ocean.

The bleak images which confronted the world in the aftermath of the tragedy spoke to the eerie emptiness of the sea. To stumble along these warped reminders of a jetliner and its passengers along the seabed is to remember the vastness of the mysteries in the sea, alone reminders of the sorrowful loss of so many. Those aboard the flight unexpectedly (and unfairly) found their graves below some 13,000 feet of water.

In all, 74 of the passengers were never recovered. For them, like so many before, their existences became an unknown physicality of the sea, leaving those in their wake to carry in mere memory the fact that they once shaped the exactitude of life for a set of people. This is the plea of the Atlantic.

Standing on its shores, we see humanity as a fleeting occurrence for which we ought to be so grateful, yet which we know inevitably will be slowly worn away by the relentlessly lapping waves of the sea. This confronts those around it with the seeming inability of life to confront the immensity of time approaching it. How are we even to contemplate our progression into the future when we consider the daunting aspects of our past? It seems that this ‘placehood’, per se, is what marks our cultures.

For those who come from the shores of the mighty Atlantic, life has been framed in its miniscule nature to the sea. The waves, however humble on a calm day, are restless in their encroachment of our lives. To relinquish ourselves to this fate has become somewhat paradoxically freeing. It is to acknowledge the impermanence of oneself.

It is to be sure that I too will one day stroll into the waves like all those before me. They will slowly lap by my feet, filling the cracks of my toes until they reach my knees. Eventually, my form as a human being will disappear beneath the endlessness of the horizon, and those on the beach having gradually encountered the consummation of my physicality to the sea.

They know as well that one day such a fate will approach them. This is the bonding of a people around the realization of their instantiation within the infinite complexities of human existence.

Complexity Sui Generis

It seems that a particular fetish has emerged in contemporary architecture for outright complexity and variation. This is striking in a few ways. Perhaps most superficially, it alienates a great lineage of Modern Architecture as its regulated, orthogonal predecessor. Unfortunately, this claim is often maid on empty grounds. To criticize Modern Architecture on terms purely retaining to surface treatment or volumetric relationships is to delude the rich history of architecture which ties all buildings together, including even those within the digital camp. It is beyond comprehension why digitally generated works of the discipline would want to preclude themselves from the analysis of shifting methods of the profession, as if to indicate (without merit) that they are of something higher.

Architecture as Memory

What can we expect of our spaces? What do we remember of our spaces?

That we obviously recall only what we can remember posits architecture in a strange existence. Like the tree in the woods, a piece of architecture seems to be nothing but the experiences it imparts on those who inhabit, or at least encounter, it. How, then, are we to design?

This predicament places the architect in a precarious disposition, trapped between the purported autonomy of a formalized discipline and the whim of a wonderfully ignorant populace.

Those who engage our buildings have no intentions to study their qualities as we have designed them, and yet they possess the most sophisticated devices for realizing the meaningful instantiations of our artifacts in the fabric of society.

I would posit that this requires a sudden rationalization within the discipline about what exactly it is to make a work of architecture. How can we both curate for and at once allot the ample room within our buildings for the experimentation of those who inhabit them? Will a person truly remember a building which forces its identity onto them? If they indeed do, is this memory valid? Are architects the imperial masters of a widespread colonial empire of thought, settling here and there their autocratic visions onto the unwilling native peoples of a thousand cultures?

In 1789, a swarm of French people overthrew the Bastille prison in Paris. Consequential study reveals that the prison had only a handful of prisoners, most of whom were even by the standards of the rebels undesirable to have freely roaming society. In fact, it stands as ironic, at least initially, that these people were merely transferred into the prisons of the rebels themselves. The actions of the French on that day were, following this logic, clearly not for tactical ends. Instead, an item of architecture has inserted itself forever into their cultural psyche.

The Bastille itself has become a monument on the landscape of the French consciousness, and yet nothing of its geometry of material architecture is important to this memory. This was a structure which came to mean something. Its existence was therefore transient, allowing its simultaneous (literal) destruction to be accompanied by a thorough, though abstract, reconstruction in the mentality of the people.

This example, of course, is one in which the meaning of a building was applied to its architecture after the fact of its construction. Naturally, this stance causes a rather problematic situation for architecture if we are to take some agency over the interaction our works have in the cultural landscape.

Yet more, the Bastille implanted itself into specifically the French psyche. A Korean who might visit the site where the prison once stood will have no connection to its meaning. The same Korean might stroll past the Tower of London only a few hundred miles away and still realize nothing of its horrific instantiations within the English mind.

How is architecture to cater to the intimate nostalgia of the immediate people it encompasses while nonetheless attempting to reach beyond the confines of its immediate societal container? How is architecture to engage the preceding items of its culture and, at once, hope to create a new understand of what it means to exist therein?

It appears that the building is trapped within this unsteady stance between the past and the future. In any case, we find in both palaces and slums an innumerable set of examples where people love, loose, cry and die. A building might just be whatever the people want to make of it.

As Alain de Botton points out, the villa at 56–58 Am Großen Wannsee in Berlin is only innocent as long as we hold back from realizing that it held the Wannsee Conference, where head Nazis officiated the measures which would become the final solution.

Can we actually take control, preemptively, of the instantiations architecture will incur? If we even can, should we? If we cannot, what is the point? In any case, it must be something we are at least cognizant of, because architecture will rest in some way or another within the sediment of our cultural identities.

Program and Consequences

As provided, the brief problematizes some of the assumptions we hold about what we might consider an inserted educational body within an urban fabric. To analyze these, it is most productive first to handle them category by category, after which grander observations and conjectures may instate themselves between the members of the program:

Situation – the disposition of a particular program in broader terms than subsequent categories to its neighbors. This accumulates porosity, visibility and adjacency into one abstract term.

Audience – the intended relationship of a programmatic element towards those who already find themselves within the building.

Verticality – due to the Cathedral effect, architects must understand the pragmatics of their spaces’ dimensions. While taller spaces promote creativity, shorter ones instill better work habits. Given the functional and meaningful backdrop to these categories, it is important to divide the program as per height.

Connectivity – the level of connection a program demands, chiefly through circulation, with the other items which assemble to produce a building or an urban experience.

Mechanical – some spaces require minimal mechanical intervention to ventilate, while more complex or specific areas demand greater indulgence in systematic connectivity. While no space is truly “nonmechanized”, some lie at a baseline of mechanical intervention, begging only for baseline HVAC systems. Others, such as laboratories, inherently carry more specialized interventions to perform.

Transparency – the amount of visibility a program requires or elicits between a twofold understanding of vista, taking into account both the ways we see the rooms of a building from outside (in the public atmosphere) and from within, typically gazing from the building’s removed or choreographed circulatory elements. This is not a completely rational categorization and requires that the designer posit in its implementation a political understanding of what matters in a building, particularly in regards to the values a building desires to implant in a setting. If urban, the ramifications of such choices can be extremely vital in shaping how those beyond the design world are to inherit architectural opinions.

Constituency – beyond merely intended audiences, to understand a building by the terms of its constituency is perhaps to venture further into the meaningful ramifications that building instills within a context. Who does the building serve, even if unintentionally? While the Pan Am building in the most immediate understanding deals only with those employees who inhabit it, its broader consequences aesthetically and politically engage Manhattan, if not the larger American mindset.

Category – the category of a program can be interesting or banal, depending on its implementation. This division in the blurred comprehension for intension, audience and character of a space sets forth a series of demands which necessitate that the designer curate an experience of the building, considering especially its metaphysical relationship with those in and around its presence within a context.

Conclusions, and on the Immensely Problematic Vivarium

It appears clear that the brief for the Department of Ecology demands expansion, subdivision and reordering in twofold order so that it can gain the distinct ability to function seamlessly and, more importantly, to provide novel experiences which might link the researcher or visitor with otherwise unpredictable serendipities of program. Of particular curiosity is the vivarium.

As briefed, the space calls for one singular entity. This demand inevitably results in the penetration of the discrete space far into the structure of the building. In so doing, its primacy over all other program is almost criminal. Structurally, the space’s load requirements necessitate spans far greater than manageable within the provided site without becoming otherwise obtrusive to the architectural experience purported by the building.

In addition, it would seem to be self-limiting in its singularity that the vivarium would delineate for researchers only one canvas on which to paint. Only one climate would possibly be studied at a time, thus presenting an overall confinement of possible scientific inquiry.

Plan studies of various theater typologies, analyzing singular benefits and disadvantages in each with the ultimate proposal of a hybridized typology that both provides adequate in-department lecture space while offering the unique possibility of opening the building to its public presence along the street in the circumstance of special events

Therefore, the scheme purposes to divide the singular vivarium into five equal parts, to be distributed evenly throughout the whole of the building. These would themselves become spaces of novel experience. How strange it might be to stumble upon a garden of rare fauna when engaging in an otherwise quotidian stroll!

The strategy for the thematization of these divisions can be explained in far greater detail later. Their immediate ramifications for the plan place in one swoop the urbanity of the proposal’s circulatory possibilities and the horticultural endgame of the of the program.

The arrangement of these spaces begs that the visitor becomes aware of their significations. In what order are they presented? How do they relate to the overall scheme? How are these to be experienced? Are they all to be experienced in the same way, or is a rolling set of circumstances to abjudicate the relationship between those experiencing them and their actual material instantiations within the building? What themselves do these spaces arbitrate? Are they spaces of gather or meeting without explicitly being demarcated as such?

These questions remain as of yet unanswered. Their conclusions surely hold grand ramifications for the exact nature of the building for the Department of Ecology and Evolution. To spark this conversation is to engage a question of program and role.

Abstraction Failed

While digital applications have indeed enabled the creation within the computer of almost any form, there remains a significant question of the value of their perceptions once they have been rationalized in the real world. Let’s say we model digitally a sphere. At this point in human technological development, the sphere is perhaps the most perfect realization we can cast our eyes upon. We understand it abstractly, devoid material or physicality.

Now, let’s say we build the sphere. Supposing that it is large enough to require subdivision of its surfaces for feasibility, it is technically no longer a sphere. Presupposing no calls in judgment about the validity of this approach and given that we are interpreting it on terms solely formal, it calls into question when thinking of such a thing if we are really seeing a sphere, and to what value we uphold the enforced abstraction of its form. Unpolluted by the insisting claims of its geometrical abstraction, what would we label the thing before us?

A purely nominal designation as a sphere would only do so much in the mind to calm the perception of its panels, structure and seaming. Likewise, it would take a conscious effort to recall the thing before us as an assemblage of metals and whatever else, rather than the geometrical entity we are so thirsty to perceive.