For MIT’s 150th anniversary, a group of invited artists, designers, and architects took part in a campus-wide exhibition of thirty art and performance pieces. Overliner is a response to the charge for a site specific installation that celebrates the university’s legacy of innovation. Located in the Whitaker Building’s atrium, the piece is inserted within an existing free-standing stair that is itself a striking architectural object often ignored by the passers-by. Overliner aims to call attention to the missed spatial conditions of this site while marking it as exceptional.
Suspended by cables at the stair’s center, the project cantilevers radially to line the underside of the stair, transforming one’s experience and understanding of the stair as space. Particularities of the stair geometries are referenced in the serial repetition and dimension of the folded sheet unit. The aluminum structural members produce a ruled surface, teasing out the unseen helicoid implicit in the stair’s spiral geometry. Where the stair confronts the exigencies of the ground, breaking away from the strict figural regularity of the repetitive system above, so too does Overliner stretch from a liner into a broader canopy.
Carefully calibrated sets of tangent planar curves, inscribed as perforations on flat sheets, fold into the figured ridges of stiffened petals, manifesting the deep textures latent in two-dimensional curves. The result is a lightweight and diaphanous kind of spatial origami suspended overhead, underscoring and overlining a quietly remarkable architectural condition.
Design team: Cynthia Gunadi, Joel Lamere, David Costanza, Alex Dixon, Fred Kim, Kayla Manning, Lauren Matrka