Newsletter 142
Machado and Silvetti Associates

Work In Progress: Menokin Exhibition and Conservation Center

In 2011 we were hired by the Menokin Foundation to develop a design strategy and master plan for the conservation and interpretation of their magnificent and inspiring 500 acres site in the Northern Neck of Virginia. Of particular interest are the remains of neo-palladian buildings of what were, at the end of the 18th century, the Menokin Plantation. Built and administered by Francis LIghtfoot Lee, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, Menokin sits on a prominent waterfront site whose full history traces itself back to pre-colonial times as the settlement of the Rappahannock tribes, from whom the name 'Menokin' comes from. This historic plantation is and will continue to be in the foreseeable future an active site of historical, ethnographic and archaeological investigations.

Our work pursues the goal of giving structure, physical form and institutional operativity to the Foundation enlightened aspirations, chiefly to approach conservation and interpretation in a innovative, unconventional way, aiming at making the visitor's experience of the multi-layered site a veritable individual creative process. For this we assembled an extraordinary team of consultants and begun working on a novel approach to conservation and interpretation of both the original architecture and the whole plantation site so as to make Menokin a distinctive stop along the string of historical colonial and revolutionary sites in Virgina.
     Existing Conditions of the Exterior & the Proposed Interiors.

The first phase of the project involves the stabilization of the existing remains of the main house and ancillary structures. These registered National Historic Landmarks require urgent action to prevent further decay. The second phase involves the transformation of these main structures into a showcase of the process of their construction and conservation. The volume and overall original form of the neo-palladian house will be re-established so that the visitor can visualize the original relationships among the structures and between these structures and their landscape. However, this will not be a conventional restoration process which might seek to reconstruct and replicate the original residential quarters. Instead, a sophisticated structural glass system is proposed as the dominant new construction material. This allows for the restoration of the overall configuration while establishing a clear distinction between old and new, exhibiting the process of colonial construction systems and the spatial relationships of different interior locales. The glass highlights the connections between the house and the surrounding landscape by means of variable transparency.

Currently we are starting with the stabilization of the remains of the main neo-palladian house. The Concept Design is complete and the Menokin Foundation is actively raising funds for construction. To learn more about the Menokin Foundation, please follow this LINK.
Chazen Museum of Art

Awards: AIA New England

The New York University Global Center for Academic and Spiritual Life in Manhattan and the Black Family Visual Arts Center at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire have received Honor Awards from AIA New England. LINK

Image: Black Family Visual Arts Center

In the Press

Designers and Books, October 2013 
Featuring the Book Selection of Jorge Silvetti

Clarin ARQ, November 2013 
NYU Global Center for Academic and Spiritual Life



Events: Lectures

Jorge Silvetti:
Architectural Explorations: Pedagogical Practices

Organized by the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, this International Seminar hosts discussions regarding current educational pedagogies and will explore the future of architectural education.  The week-long seminar will take place in Lima, Cuzco and Machu Pichu, December 9-14.  Jorge Silvetti delivers the keynote speech on December 12 in Cusco. LINK

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