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En Pointe: Heather Roberge, murmur

Banvard Gallery / Knowlton Hall
November 23, 2015 - 5:30pm to January 21, 2016 - 5:00pm

The Exhibit

EN POINTE: Heather Roberge, murmur

“En Pointe”, an array of architectural objects, reflects on the historical and spatial significance of the column as both object and series. Inspired by the hypostyle hall, “En Pointe” is a group of columns poised on blade-like fulcrums defining dynamic spaces below. To achieve a balanced state, the mass and silhouette of each column is eccentrically distributed to stabilize its adjacent columns. While unstable individually, the columns enter a state of poise when grouped. “En Pointe” challenges qualities long associated with structural and visual stability proposing alternative distributions of force and material and with these, reconfigured spatial experiences.

The column has long been a site of architectural study and ingenuity. As both object and series, it is at once symbolic and functional. Its verticality marks the distance between horizontal planes, and as it is repeated and positioned, it determines spatial order. Its status as an object is marked by geometric variations in silhouette, massing, and termination coalescing into a particular figural presence or formal order. This installation contributes to the discipline of architecture’s discourse around the column conceptually and materially. Conceptually, it inverts the column’s relationship to the ground and intensifies its spatial effects. The column’s tapered silhouette challenges the long held notion of firmitas (originating with Vitruvius) as a necessary expressive quality of the column. Instead of visually stabilizing each column with a sturdy and broad base, “En Pointe” develops visual stability through interdependence; individual columns enter a stable state through the adjacency and specificity of its neighbors. Materially, the exhibition extends the potential of planar elements in the construction of the column. “En Pointe” is sculpted of metal patterns that when folded produce enclosure and structure. “En Pointe” invents a column type that combines the surface active structure of Felix Candela and the section active structure of Mies van der Rohe.

Underlying the development of this exhibition is an active engagement with history as a deep reservoir of insight into the nature of the column. In the pamphlet provided, we present a partial historical survey of the column to understand its role in the production of space. This genealogy speculates on the relationship of column form to its distribution in space over time. This installation draws on these insights to cross-pollinate historical cases with one another proposing the first of what we hope are numerous possible futures of the column.


Heather Roberge is an award-winning designer and educator in Los Angeles. She is principal of Murmur: Architecture and Environments and is associate professor at UCLA where she directs the undergraduate program in Architectural Studies. Ms. Roberge’s research and professional work investigates the spatial, structural, and atmospheric potential of digital technologies on the theory and practice of building. Her work emphasizes innovative approaches to material, craft, and manufacturing expanding design vocabulary with mixtures of tradition and technology. Her work has been widely published and exhibited in the U.S. and abroad. Her projects, as co-principal of Gnuform, titled Purple Haze (finalist, PS1/MOMA’s Young Architects Program, 2006) and the NGTV Bar (AIA|LA design award, 2006) were widely recognized for their contribution to digital design discourse. Murmur’s proposal for the Succulent House (AIA|Next LA design award, 2011) and the Vortex House (nomination, Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize for Emerging Architecture, 2014) were recognized for design excellence.

About the Gallery

The Banvard Gallery is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The Gallery is located on the first floor of Knowlton Hall on the campus of The Ohio State University.