Kimball Kaiser

SuperLivery (M.Arch Thesis)

SuperLivery Kimball Kaiser Architecture M.Arch Thesis


'Super' is borrowed from Supergraphics, the term that classifies the super-scaled, two dimensional geometries that began appearing on walls, floors, and ceilings in the 1960’s and 1970’s. These stripes, numbers, words, and arrows were applied to existing architecture after the fact to achieve optical effects. These results were often accomplished by disregarding architectural planes, betraying corners, and visually masking form with pattern. In these instances, Supergraphics had much more in common with Op Art and it’s older sibling Razzle Dazzle Camouflage.

'Livery' is the term used by designers for the specific set of colors and graphics wrapped on products such as automotive vehicles, trains, and airplanes. These graphics directly respond to three dimensional form by requirement, and are often used to accentuate form by being administered in a manner corresponding to geometry piece by piece. The livery design process is considerate and precise. Whether or not the graphic jumps a joint or highlights it, wraps an edge or gets cut short, traces openings or folds them into color, the design of a livery quickly requires a magnitude of thoughtfulness. 

'SuperLivery' as a conglomeration of the two terms begins to describe an argument and conceptual attitude for the graphic treatment of architectural surfaces. For example, the graphic as a design element should be specifically attached to an architectural form rather than be applied as an afterthought. The graphic is as equal in detail and material to any other component of architectural design. The process to achieve these results requires a SuperLivery to sometimes supersede form and become an autonomous compositional device - one in which form and graphic are designed in tandem, or use a process that privileges the graphic to be the conceptual driver for architecture, letting the SuperLivery be the skeleton in which form fills in the blanks.

This project and study is executed through the design of three separate train stations each with different requirements in scale and program. The first station is a simple street car stop that mainly shapes a canopy for shelter, using a process that balances design moves through a juggling of form and graphic, while maintaining a shared autonomy. The second train station represents a regional transportation station with enclosure and simple programmatic elements. Stop Two is designed through the first attempts of leading a process driven completely through the manipulations of an independent SuperLivery. Folding, cutting, and stretching of the graphic determine openings and the sequestering of volume as form begins to be developed through the graphic surfaces. Questions of mass, thickness, and transparency are decided after the graphic condition of the SuperLivery exists, making opportunities for the rest of the architectural equation to fill in and negotiate different remaining circumstances. The last stop represents the largest, inner city station. Stop Three continues with a graphic first process, and controls all global design moves of the station, confirming the equal instantiation of the graphic's presence as equal to any other architectural component. 

Models, drawings, and material studies are developed as carefully considered artifacts, not only to prove their own importance to the separate representational strategies of the project, but also because of the one-to-one scale study of the project. SuperLivery's contributions also aim to be at the level of the architectural detail, as the design philosophy of the project requires the graphic to be an equal component of the construction assembly, especially in design with the reveal or the fastener for example.

stop ONE model

stop ONE drawings

stop TWO model

stop TWO drawings

stop THREE model

stop THREE drawings

process diagrams + superliveries

material + conceptual studies

*Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning: Thesis Honor