BLUE TAPE, the winning proposal of an international competition to design an Architecture School adjacent to the American University in Dubai, “is a vertical re-imagining of the typical architecture school typology.” Submitted by USC alumni Evan Shieh and Ali Chen, BLUE TAPE, which transforms a horizontal pin-up space into a vertical ‘conceptual connector,’ is inspired by USC’s ‘Blue Tape Reviews’ (their method of pinning up work for design reviews).
BLUE TAPE’s core concept is that of the pin-up space, which organizes and stacks larger programs like studios, classrooms, workshops, events and gallery spaces, an auditorium, and a library.
“These public programs become conceptual extensions of the Pin-Up spine,” write Shieh and Chen, “expressed on the façade of the tower as formal ‘voids,’ serving as a symbolic and public expression of a continuous space of ‘academia.’”
The studios, which are a critical programmatic element, “take the language of a formal ‘solid’ in contrast to the Pin-Up ‘void’” and are situated on floorplates which ramp upwards in a continuous spiral. Their omnipresence in the tower is crucial; “as a support space, [the studios] generate the ideas that feed the Pin-Up spine.”
“BLUE TAPE also recognizes how vital the professor-student relationship is to the architectural education. By placing the faculty offices and administrative services along the entire north-west elevation of the tower, offices are in direct adjacency to the studios on every level, providing an integrated educational environment.”
Competition: AC-CA Dubai Architecture School Tower Competition
Award: First Place
Project Name: BLUE TAPE: Architecture School Tower
Location: Exit 32, Sheikh Zayed Road, Media City
Students (B.Arch., University Of Southern California, 2012): Evan Shieh, Ali Chen
Photographs: Courtesy of Evan Shieh, Ali Chen