The Public Pépinière
Wittenberg, Gordon; Colman, Scott
Master of Architecture
Online companies like Kickstarter offer a new method for entrepreneurship, showing that people want to engage the creative economy and innovators are willing to share projects still in process. The shift embodied in the virtual approach to startups calls for a new architectural institution that accommodates and facilitates this model. We need a physical place to operate, iterate, and test projects with the public. This thesis proposes just that: A startup incubator with a public interface for New Orleans, a city rich in social, artistic, and entrepreneurial ambition. Traditionally, innovation is done in isolation: the public only connects with a product when it’s already on the market, separated from its creators. But an institution that engages customer and product development simultaneously would limit failed introductions to the market. This requires consolidating the places of product innovation and public introduction. The garage is a compelling space of innovation because when its primary occupant - the car - is out, its space is up for grabs by the occupant of the house - the innovator. Open the garage door, and the space welcomes the public. Transforming the diagram of the garage to accommodate an institution, fluctuations in rights to the space of the incubator indulge oscillations in populations and access. A core system of storage elevators allows users to easily store their collapsible office. Clearing the floor in their absence, the space can be used by others and the density of occupation increased. Activating the elevator system to vertically relocate “offices,” users engage environments with amenities appropriate to their current ambitions, while mediating levels accessible to the public or not. As tourists overflow the streets and enter the institution, they engage the whims of the creative process, providing innovators with vital feedback in return. Creativity joins the collective.