Black Box Repository


Briefed as a comprehensive design infill project located on the periphery of downtown Philadelphia, this construct is intended to serve as a repository and exhibition space for an object of choice. Flight Data Recorders aka “Black Boxes” recovered from recent airline tragedies become the objects for archival and supply the inspiration for initial spatial collages as well as their subsequent technical translations. Beginning with the unnerving narratives stored inside these objects rather than their quantitative relevance, the mystery of the recorders' contents suggests an architecture of the void. This dense shell fills with the atmospheric workings of its users. Footsteps from curious passersby seeking to uncover the building’s purpose, a technical discussion overheard during the boxes' data extraction process, or the weeping of a family member who is grieving the loss of a loved one, these echoes of sound and hints of light compose a sectional orchestra that foreshadows the programs of adjacent spaces within. The depth of the narrative builds as the visitor moves vertically to the roofscape at which point he/she enters into an artificial cloud resulting from trapped moisture expelled by the building’s mechanical systems. Emerging from the haze one discovers a perfectly framed panorama of the southern sky and its local air traffic. On this deck personal ipods holding the cockpit voice recordings downloaded from the library below provide the soundtrack to the architecture. Whether friends, relatives, or complete strangers to the victims of these recordings, each participant will undoubtedly come to appreciate the details of their experience.