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Graduate Thesis Project

Burton L. Kampner Memorial Award Honorable Mention

Spring 2016

Project Location: New York, USA 
Collaborators: Stefan Klecheski, Siwei Ren
Instructor: Matias Del Campo

Thesis Brief


How can cuteness be deployed in architecture? Is there a relationship between the uncanny and the cute? By proposing a perversion of Mies’ architecture of sobriety, we unpack the field of aesthetic categories extant in architecture today. Cute forms are agglomerated, as a means to unpack the Seagram Building’s unique quality, and as a means to investigate cute effects and tectonics. 

Cuteness: The Field


The desire to care, and cuteness, is performative, addictive. It triggers empathy. Simultaneously, cuteness has its own field, gradually evolving from conventional cute to contemporary cute and to uncannily cute. Recently, cuteness has been hybridizing with the grotesque. Cute can be disturbing, and there’s a fine line.


Uncanniness: The Curve


The uncanny valley describes a condition in which as something approaches resemblances to reality, at a certain point, our feeling of empathy towards it drops, and we feel disgust. Can we use the uncanny as a method of design to disturb the elegance and silence of the Seagram Building? This curve shows our various disturbances which attempt to make the building cute. Our design, in the middle, being populated by just enough cute elements taking on the quality of the uncannily cute.

Uncannily Cute: The Cells Cladogram

Uncannily Cute: The Form

Uncannily Cute: The Agglomeration

Typical Floor Plan

Top Floor Plan

A-A Section

Fabrication Strategy


This uncannily cute Seagram Building can be built with the sheet material. To prove that, these three stages serve as the mock-up prototypes demonstrating how the panels work as the complexity of the geometries increase. They are divided and combined by the finger joints, which offer perfect solution bridging the design and build.


The fundamental strategy is dividing the sphere into horizontal strips or panels, A Grasshopper script is developed to add fins along the edges and to guarantee that they are matching side by side.


The following stages suggest that any space and geometry can be treated as the combination of basic spheres and can be further divided into panels. Thus, the whole building can be built in sheet materials. Moreover, the shape of seams, constituted by the finger joints will largely influence the impression as well as the physical performance of the whole building at large.

Fabrication Brief

Due to certain limitations of scales and part to whole relationships, the model of the whole Seagram Building is built with multiple fabrication methods including CNC milling and various sheet material assembling. 


The majority of the facade is milled from foam, creating a cute, thick field hugging the Seagram Building’s curtain wall and integrating with the original I-Beams. Discrete panels emphasize features within this field. The cute objects and field of the uncannily cute Seagram Building are round, featured, and made of foam and plastic. The new cute constructs bite away at the floor slabs, and rest on the original plaza, reconsidering the relationship between object and context.


CNC Milling

Physical Model-Details
Physical Model-Entrance
Physical Model-Tower
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