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They serve as a kind of conceptual touchstone for the reading of this building and as a narrative glue.

These tents, stretched over the oval, take ideal shapes in their tensile material, their forms an inverted counterpoint to the compressive arches and domed shapes nearby. But how do Saarinen’s iconic structural shapes communicate their structural logic? 3 Structure: Appearance and Reality The dichotomies of human use and experience inform the third and most striking tension, between the appearances of purely compressive forms (masonry walls with arches, concrete shells), and the actualities of why and how they do not act in pure compression.

Special thanks to Edward Allen FAIA for his illumination of this related point and for his helpful commentary on structural design issues more broadly 18. In retirement, Zalewski has collaborated and co-taught with former faculty such as Edward Allen FAIA, who along with MIT’s architecture, building technology, and engineering faculty and students have explored the analysis and design of compressive structures with newfound computational tools as well as centuries-old practices of graphic statics.

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