The Palazzo Rucellai is an amalgam of several additions and the untidy product of piecemeal construction since 1446 (Florence, Italy). Alberti's incomplete facade unifies these additions, exemplifying the Renaissance "return to style"--Roman aesthetic principles, abstract concepts like symmetry and proportion, and the appropriation of a structural language governed by the rules of a recursive vocabulary and syntax.
By correcting the existing palazzo structure--obfuscating and reproducing the ‘ideal’ rationalized form--Alicia and I were able to produce an architectural diptych were the formal ‘hinge’ of the stair both divides and unites the overall composition.
While the existing façade is incomplete, an early drawing shows Alberti’s ideal proposal for the Palazzo Rucellai as a symmetrical five bay structure (AABAA). Our project mirrors this composition to create a three bay extension (BAA) to the existing building that overlaps the two residual bays of the unfinished façade. In plan, existing walls are removed from these bays to implement an ‘ideal’ palazzo structure. The trabeation of Alberti’s flattened classical façade is abstracted and extruded to form an open, modern post and beam system. The overlapping structural lines of the old and new grids are mediated in the poche of the hinge, thickened façade members, and shifted wall openings. An internal stair forms the hinge, joining the old and new palazzos. These separate vertically in section to read as two distinct parts of a larger whole. The fifth bay is stripped of its stonework to reveal the hinge of the stair, leaving the facade incomplete and allowing it to retain an "either/or" reading. Essentially, the form of the project expands the deep space that's implied in the collapsed façade.
Collaboration with Alicia Pozniak