Softcell, installation at Henry Urbach Architecture, NY, 2005

Michael Meredith

Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts
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Architects are the designers of our environment. The good ones can make something small seem monumental, and transform marginal spaces into centerpieces for cultural activities. Michael Meredith accomplished both in the Huyghe + Corbusier: Harvard Project. In collaboration with French artist Pierre Huyghe, Meredith designed and constructed a temporary puppet theater to house three live performances commemorating the fortieth anniversary of the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts at Harvard University, designed by the Swiss architect Le Corbusier. The theater, located in an uninviting sunken courtyard underneath the Carpenter Center, was made of 500 prefabricated polycarbonate panels that were all unique. Foam inserts stiffened each panel and provided a surface to which living moss could adhere. Meredith took his inspiration for the structure from the site itself, framing a tree on one end and the puppet stage on the other. The live, spongy green mass provided a counterpoint to the stark masonry of the looming building overhead.

In his recently completed Shed in upstate New York, Meredith inserted a forty-foot-long perforated metal box into a bucolic green landscape. The effect is totally unexpected: the shed virtually disappears as one stands at a distance looking through the perforated growth patterns stamped on the metal to the landscape behind—a magic mirror that does not reflect, but allows a view to the other side.

Meredith, an assistant professor of architecture at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, likes to be engaged in interdisciplinary work ranging from art to technology. His recent design for coat hooks have the same organic and tactile qualities as Soft Cell, an installation of cast rubber and silicone mats that have been described as “three-dimensional drawings.” The mats are meant to seem alien in a room, but nevertheless invite visitors to touch, sit down, and lie on the rubber pile surface. The coat hooks and mats seem to spread like spores over the walls and floor, creating an environment that is both engaging and unsettling.