UbiquitoU.S. Conditions

The propensity of the human spirit is to embrace the familiar and reject the uncertain. This disposition, though subtle, often presents itself in the most uncanny ways, particularly within the fabric of our cities and towns. A trip down Main Street feels like an intimate and localizing experience, at least until one realizes that more than 6,000 Main Streets populate the continental United States. While these places each have a unique flavor, they are unified by a set of underlying parameters like zoning codes, land ordinances, construction methods, and architectural styles that have been adopted as standards throughout the country. While these underpinnings do not supersede the nostalgia of Main Street, they enable mechanisms of capital that proliferate nostalgia through efficient means of construction. Highways and mass production have allowed housing subdivisions, franchises, and box stores to become the pervasive fabric of these towns. The result is something Vittorio Gregotti calls “mass homogeneity,” in which commodity based methods of construction and development create places with little distinction.

The challenge of these ubiquitous conditions are their double edged nature. On one hand they promote a certain level of individual agency through ownership and DIY culture, and on another they decentralize communities through policies of exclusivity and suburban expansion. This type of development introduces the opportunity for a civic space to exist between the old and the new that mediates between the nostalgic and the expansive. Current attitudes accept default methods of construction and expansion without considering broad implications. This new town hall for Main Street challenges this reliance on familiarity by evoking an affinity for locality and an awareness of a town’s position amongst global factors. The aim of this project is to instill an ethos celebrating place and identity in an otherwise ubiquitous condition.
Faculty Advisor:
Julia McMorrough