FWD: Scale
Date: Mon, 20 Sep 93 10:15 CDT
Newsgroups: alt.architecture
From: gibsonf1 [at] netcom.com (Frederick Clifford Gibson)
Subject: Re: "Scale" and Psychology
Message-ID: <gibsonf1CDJDwx.27D [at] netcom.com>
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References: <27de2r$hfh [at] senator-bedfellow.MIT.EDU>
Date: Sat, 18 Sep 1993 06:26:55 GMT
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N John Tsuchiya (tsuchiya [at] athena.mit.edu) wrote:
:       "Scale" and "proportion" are two vague concepts which many people
: throw around without actually defining what they are talking about.  I feel
: that they are two sides of the same thing.  "Scale" has to do with how
: people perceive connections between two different sized objects.  Good scale
: results in the two objects have a sense of being related.


I consider the architectural concept of scale to be fundamentally defined as
the relationship between Man and built-environment.  Using a "zoom" metaphor,
consider slowly walking backwards away from the buidling.  When close to the
building, it is possible to reach out and touch the building. Thus, at this
location, the relationship between the hand and the building is important. 
As you slowly back away, no longer able to reach out and grab the building,
the relationship between your overall height and the height of the building
becomes the focus of attention.  As you continue backing away, the relation-
ship of the height of the building to the surrounding environment becomes
the dominant focus.  

Paul Rudolph, who I worked with in New York, considers 100 feet to be the
"magic" number.  It is at a distance of 100 feet that the human eye is no
longer able to perceive detail less that the height of a Man/Woman.  For this
reason, in all of Rudolph's large scale work, the scale of his buildings
no longer relate to Man/Woman after the first 5 floors. (roughly 100 feet
when viewed at an angle).  For this reason, he considers a building to
be "scale-less" after 100 feet.

Proportions, however, have no direct connection to the concept of scale.  While
"scale" pertains to the relationship between Man/Woman and the size of
objects, proportions deal with the shape of objects.
Note that no matter what scale an object is, it exhibits the
attribute of proportion independent of scale.  Consider a pair of dice.
One die is a very small cube. It exhibits cubic/square proportions. Now
consider a buidling 10 floors high with a floor to floor distance of 10
feet with a square plan of 100 feet on each side.  This buidling, although
vastly different in scale, also exhibits cubic/square proportions.  One
can correcty assert that the die and this building are proportionally

Fred Gibson
        gibsonf1 [at] netcom.com

Designer, KMD Architects - San Francisco

  • FWD: Scale BARANSKI, September 20 1993
    • FWD: Scale BARANSKI, September 20 1993

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