Kanda stared at his shoelaces to avoid the eyes of the passengers across from him.  He wondered where they might be going, despite his calculated facade of obliviousness.  “Only ten minutes longer on the train,” he thought, as he put in his headphones to drown out the hum of the rails.  Enough time for two more songs.
“North Avenue… Doors closing…” played on the intercom as he exited onto the station platform.  He noticed more activity than usual on this Saturday afternoon as he jostled for a position on the escalator.  Just as the third song began playing in his headphones, he looked up to see the tunnel of light streaming down through the series of escalators.  Today he was going all the way up, to the painting studio he had dubbed the “crow’s nest”.  He hoped that he would finally be able to translate his ideas to the large canvas that hung there.
The weight of his bag dug into his shoulder as he moved through the translucent arc of circulation space, slowly making his way to the upper extents of the facility.  The stacked boxes of studios gradually became clearer and larger as he approached.  The large format painting studio was empty today, aside from the tins of paint, brushes, and rags strewn about the edges.  His empty canvas seemed to mock him as he entered, hanging lifeless and clean against a masonry wall rich with the colorful traces of past painters and illuminated by a sliver of sky high above.
“Today is the day…” he thought, with a lump forming in his throat.  He pulled a stool up to a desk at the edge of the studio and cleared a space for his laptop and sketchbook.  A gentle breeze moved through the open boundaries of the space and across Kanda’s neck, and a large fan turned slowly in the reflection of his screen.
Soon, the warm glow of brass instruments began to appear faintly through the layers of screen and vegetation before him, as musicians filed into the large amphitheater far below.  Kanda watched as the musicians took their seats, and removed his headphones just as the gentle purr of the instruments began to drift upward into the studios.  “If they have the courage to perform in front of such a large audience, then I should have the courage to paint this canvas with an audience of none…” he thought.
But just as his courage grew, so did his appetite.  He stashed his things in a locker and began his descent, this time opting to weave between the cluster of stacked studios.  As he walked, he caught glimpses of others creating things within the studios.  He saw paintings, sculptures, mounds of clay, choreographies, all in varying states of completion.  The path narrowed as he passed between two adjacent studios, with their masonry work-walls facing inward, creating a gallery effect with a thin layer of translucency separating him from each.  
The path spilled out into a small courtyard filled with green vegetation and splotches of colorful flowers, mimicking the colors of a painting.  The music grew louder and louder as he approached the market area, and he quickly recognized the smell of his favorite stand.​​​​​​​
“Hey Kanda,” Noy said from behind the counter.  “Are you here for the concert?”
“No,” said Kanda.  “Just working on a painting.”
“Cool! Can I see it sometime?”
“Well… I haven’t really started… but I think I’ll get a lot done today.  How’s work?”
“It’s good!  I like being able to listen to the concerts while I’m working.  Did you want some falafel?”
“Please.  I’m hoping it will give me some energy to paint.”
Kanda collected his food and moved on through the market space, arriving at the rear of the amphitheater to an applauding audience.  It was early in the evening still, and a full symphony commanded the stage.  He knew that somewhere in the facility, hip hop acts were preparing for the performances that would take place after sundown.
He made his way to an elevator and watched the heads of the audience recede to the scale of specks on a pointillist painting beneath him.  He exited the elevator and rested against a railing as he reached into the paper sack of falafel.  Looking down at the people below, heads bobbing gently to the music against a carpet of grass, he felt a sense of omniscience.  He felt like an observer, but not an isolated one.  He felt fully connected to the scene before him, yet far enough removed to be free and unrestrained.  As if one point from a painting had been pulled away from the canvas and given a view back toward it.   
With the sun beginning to set, the occupied studios began to glow with the soft yellow hue of electric lighting, and shadows danced across the translucent surfaces, tracing the movements of occupants within. His eyes moved across the stepped terrain of studios, which seemed to be mimicking a cliché calendar photo of Santorini, before resting on the “crow’s nest” studio at the top.  The lights were on inside of it, and a shadow was moving toward the solid wall which held his canvas.
Kanda walked quickly on his way back to the studio, wondering who might be up there.  No one had told him they were going to be around this evening.  When he entered the studio, he discovered an empty room in the same state he had left it, with the exception of a large streak of red paint across one side of his canvas.
Beneath the canvas lay a note that read,
“The first stroke is always the hardest.  You’ve got it from here.”
The Atlanta Center for Contemporary Culture seeks to simultaneously embrace and reject the arbitrarity of architectural form.  It adopts the pure form of the cube and scales of five and six, but allows the site and programmatic requirements to displace and intersect these cubes into new formal arrangements.  Spacial zones are arranged throughout a continuous network of colliding grids.  The grids mesh and overlap, pushing programs toward one another and creating interstitial spaces with a large gradient of privacy.  The programmatic cubes appear to be stabilized by two stationary towers, yet the towers are filled with negative space, in contrast to their shell and to the positive space of the programmatic cubes.  The building is a formal and compositional game which seeks to define its own set of malleable rules and conventions.
Completed fall 2021. 
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