Michael Young is an architect and educator practicing in New York City where he is a founding partner of the architectural design studio Young & Ayata. Their practice is focused on both speculative research and architectural projects. Michael has taught design studios and seminars at Yale University, Princeton University, and Columbia University. In addition to practice and teaching, Michael is invested in writing and research in relation to the confluence of geometry, representation, and aesthetics. His drawings have been exhibited in New York, Los Angeles, Barcelona, and in Lexington, Kentucky and are featured as part of the Drawing Center’s Viewing Program in New York.
Michael earned his MArch II degree from Princeton University and his BArch from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He is a registered architect in the State of New York.
Projects & Links
Busan Opera House
Location: Busan, Korea
Type: Opera Hall, Performing Arts Center, Exhibition Hall
Structure: Concrete, Steel
To attend an operatic performance is to become immersed in a total work of art. Opera seeks to compress a multitude of specific art mediums into a single temporal experience; poetic narrative, dramatic performance, music (both vocal and orchestral), costume, lighting, stage and scenery design. To be engaged in opera is often an overwhelmingly intense experience; a heightened, isolated from the everyday, aesthetic spectacle. But, to go to the opera is much more than just the performance itself. It involves all of the preliminary anticipatory experiences of the opera house. The entries, lobbies, stairways, foyers, bars and restaurants are an integral part of the opera event.
This is where the architecture of the opera house becomes a crucial piece in a larger performance; a social, cultural and aesthetic performance. Cultural institutions such as theaters, performance halls, museums, and operas provide and provoke much more than just a functional display of artwork. They are participatory pieces in the complexity of societal relations, both in the direct experiences of each patron, and through the larger urban and cultural conditions that surround the building. The opera, as a cultural hub, becomes a beacon that simultaneously draws people in while projecting identity out.
We have responded to this challenge by making three specific interventions into the opera house organization: First, the linear and hierarchical auditorium seating staggers and compresses to become more intimate, egalitarian and experiential; second, the promenade of foyer/circulation is elongated into a mediating space for the participatory act of anticipatory congregation; and lastly the pragmatic cruciform of performance stage and side stages become permeable, editable and adaptable by taking on exhibition programs as seasons and schedules permit.
Optic Puffs was developed for exhibition in Barcelona, Spain. It deals specifically with the ecology of visual perception, how human sight understands depth and movement.
A projective armature based on 17th century geometer Girard Desargues established the initial geometry. This armature assured that all the planes inside and out would be flat projective transformations of each other.
The pattern of apertures that moves through the planes of the structure are controlled by these projective alignments. What this produces is moments on all six sides of the object that are completely transparent as the apertures line up. There are also simultaneously moments where the apertures do not visually line up and thus capture and diffuse light as it comes into the interior of the structure. This difference causes one to continually move around the object in a play of optical pleasure.
Location: Tribeca, New York
Type: Custom Fixture
Structure: Nickel Plated Plastic
Project completed with Bryan Young of Young Projects
The Light Hive is a full scale digitally fabricated construction located on a roof top deck in New York City. The entire ABS printed construction is plated in nickel to improve its weather resistance, and give a reflective sheen to the shade. The lamps create both an atmosphere of light thrown into the surrounding space, as well as become sculptural objects in the roof top landscape. The use of parametric software is explored to determine at what level the variation of cells begin to lose legible repetition and instead achieve other performative and aesthetic effects. The cell variation is tightened in particular locations for structural connections, thickened in others for screening, and scaled in order to deal with the changing surface geometry.
Beyond the pragmagtics of specific performance criteria that parametric software allows, this project asked questions regarding the point at which the digitally designed and digitally fabricated object leaves these procedural origins and allow other sensations to become possible. And as a social centerpiece in a space for conversation, what norms can be transgressed when a technological process steps into the aesthetics of the grotesque, alien, or obscene?
Involutions & Atmospheres
On the Drawings
There are only lines. These drawings are printed from the wireframe view. There are no secondary rendering engines; there are no surfaces. All lines exist in a 2-dimensional plane.
Every line is straight, (Degree 1 curves). The lines in these drawings are tangent or normal to a series of curves that have been removed. The tangents are a geometric measurement of rate of change, the first differential. The normals are tied to the intensity/radius of curvature at any given instant and track the directional variation of the surface deformations.
Density is variable along a gradient, Length is variable along a gradient, and Color is variable along a gradient. These are the only variables.
The first three notes set the rules constraining the system, but it is only in the performance of the sensations produced that the drawing is evaluated. The issues at stake here have to do with sensations of depth, movement, speed, intensity and the vibrations of moiré effects that occur as the systems of lines drift and overlap; all qualities that open aesthetic questions around painterly effects.
VILLA AT AL-MEZHAR
Location: Sharjah, UAE
Type: Private residence
Structure: Concrete, Steel
The project re-imagines the courtyard typology for the arid climate of the Arabian Desert, on a site located in a typically walled-in residential neighborhood of the city.
The villa initially presents itself to the street as a levitating single volume perched on a solid stone plinth. The plinth is organized around a 25 meter swimming pool which extends out into the backyard. It holds all the service and living spaces around a 2 storey high courtyard, which performs as the center of the house. Numerous light wells provide light into the depths of the plinth.
The upper volume consists of two generic boxes for sleeping quarters at each end. The solid boxes ‘soften’ in the middle and dissolve into a double layered trellis made of single sized beams to sculpt the courtyard space below. The layers of the trellis are connected with 5 standard length vertical steel rods to allow the structure to span a greater distance, while creating a shaded courtyard below. The varying distance of the layers create moiré fields as light filters through the trellis. The quality and the nature of the moiré fields evolve through the day with the movement of the sun, evolving different shaded zones in the courtyard.
Location: Antalya, Turkey
Type: Boutique Hotel
This project explores possible surface effects of a planar geometry conceived with limited types of pre-fabricated modules. A system of 8 modules was mobilized to create a deep façade with a continuously varying field around a simple geometry, in this case a box. The required limit of 30% glass by the client was achieved with 6 deep windows per room arranged as a checker board to create the facade organizational structure. The pre-cast light weight concrete modules varying in geometry are arranged incrementally to achieve gradient effects around the planar geometry of the box. This variation provides an unstable character in the tectonic perception of the box as conditions of direct/diffused sun light, hard/soft shadows render varying identities.
Inside, the lobby and related programs are lifted one floor up from the street level. The rooms are lined along an atrium cutting through the entire height of the building. The two sides are bridged across twice on each floor. The bridges peel from the vertical atrium surface and fan incrementally from floor to floor sculpting the space of the lobby. The rugged nature of the modulated exterior is replaced with soft ribbons of bridges in the interior.
Location: Baja California
Type: Private Residence
This project began as a tectonic experiment in the merging of a reticular frame to a single curved shell. The search was for geometries & tectonics that could vary coninuously between the two ends. This required a structural articulation that would perform as a simple beam spanning between discrete framed elements on one end and a continuous lattice shell of double curvature on the other. These Geometric and tectonic constraints condidtioned a formal experiment in the movement between the flat and the curved, or how form gradually loses and gains an edge.
These experiments found a sympathetic programmatic opportunity in the design of a beach house. The site conditions offered a larger ocean frontage than entrance area. The residence developed to take advantage of the ocean views by positioning two framed vistas that then merge continuously back to a single entrance volume. In addition, the setting of the resdicne directly into the sand allows the site to flow into the structure, while the enclosure is held within the exoskeleton of the frame. The two framed extensions are differentiated with one providing a communal experience of the site, and the other a private experience of the site.
Tangent Articulations seeks to build a description of a surface through lines of constant tangency. The base surface transforms smoothly from a rectangle to an ellipse, thus flat at one edge and curved at the other.
The surface is then broken down along lines of constant tangency in two directions. These lines indicate a continuity of all points with the same horizontal or vertical tangent sequence. This technique provides an alternative manner in which a surface with variable curvature can be descritized into flat zones. A pattern is then introduced into this initial description: this pattern of partial ellipses connect across the grain of the tangent divisions creating a counter grain of visual movement.