Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Renaissance Mill

For an architect, Nikola Tesla has had an unexpected and amazing impact on my work. It began at the start of my career when I was asked to learn about and be inspired by the work of several notable scientists in the field of electricity before designing the Headquarters for the Electric Power Research Institute. Through my study, I was not just inspired by the ingenuity of Tesla, but also by the idealism that drove his pursuit. One quote in particular has always resonated deeply with me:

“War cannot be avoided until the physical cause for its recurrence is removed and this, in the last analysis, is the vast extent of the planet on which we live. Only through annihilation of distance in every respect, as the conveyance of intelligence, transport of passengers and supplies and transmission of energy will conditions be brought about some day, insuring permanency of friendly relations. What we now want is closer contact and better understanding between individuals and communities all over the earth, and the elimination of egoism and pride which is always prone to plunge the world into primeval barbarism and strife... Peace can only come as a natural consequence of universal enlightenment...”

Nikola Tesla, 1919  

Following this, I attempted to use alternating current itself to create a metaphorical architectural language for EPRI to both show their dynamism and aspirations to the outside world, but internally to help facilitate a corporate culture that has become more open and collaborative.

Most recently I have been revisiting the ideas of Tesla to help create a revitalization effort in my hometown of Augusta, GA by converting the abandoned Confederate Powder Works building into a new cultural and economic center for the city. The mill is designed not only to harness the renewable power of the Augusta Canal, but also serve as a research and technology incubation facility, and public design studio and workshop where people can come, study, learn, collaborate and work together to manufacture a better future.

While the mill itself may seem a large and potentially daunting project, we have found significant support from our community from the grassroots to the institutional and government levels. We continue to take positive incremental steps forward together as a community and are finding that their is in fact a strong culture of innovation and collaboration that is present and can be nurtured.

I am thankful for Tesla. He has been a wonderful guide towards making the world a better place.

(proposed Renaissance Mill, copyright CONima, inc., ALL RIGHTS RESERVED)

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