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Students See "Red!"

From a distance it looks like a bed of crimson tulips. As one approaches it becomes clear that the vast red spread on the slope above Paradise Pond across from the Lyman Conservatory is a sea of flags.

“Red!” as it’s sparely titled, is actually an architectural sculpture designed and produced by 26 students in the landscape studies studio and the introductory architectural studio, taught by lecturers Jeffrey Blankenship and Kirin Makker.

Though it’s tempting to back up and seek a familiar shape in the swath of flags, it is abstract in quality, says Blankenship. The “flowing wave” of flags was intentionally placed without a design in order to draw attention to the landscape there.

The sculpture succeeds. Many passersby stop to stare and ruminate on the shape’s possible intent.

The intent of “Red!” was to give their students the experience of a simplified architectural undertaking, say Blankenship and Makker, one that is manageable enough to devise and complete in a short amount of time but that includes all the elements of more intricate projects.

“The original idea for this project came out of practicality,” says Blankenship. “We wanted to have a really quick, one-week project. We wanted to go through the entire design process using a minimum of materials.”

In this case, two: 5,000 red flags and the ground in which they’re implanted.

Even within that simple scope, the landscape and architecture students learned about space limitations, blueprint design, managing to budget, adjustments to scale, efficient use of available materials and surroundings, objective and function.

“We were able to examine a lot of the little details that you have to work with in architectural projects,” says Makker.

In addition, said Blankenship, students learned how to collaborate, negotiating personalities, opinions and ideas, all while having fun working together, another of the project’s objectives.

Considering the attention “Red!” draws, the project must be considered a success at a bargain. Cost of materials: $275. Lessons learned: priceless.

"Red!" will remain on display through September 22.

9/15/06   By Eric Sean Weld
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