Erik Fichter

Editing just one detail can alter the entire structure of a concept. This thesis explores architecturally editing existing buildings to challenge their conceptual framework.

The global construction boom of the past fifty years has resulted in the production of more buildings than ever before. Today, these buildings face either demolition or repair due to average building lifespans of thirty to fifty years. In addition to these intrinsic expiration dates, contemporary environmental constraints and growing spatial needs require the extension of building lifecycles. However, the resulting misalignment between these structures’ original intentions and present-day limitations calls for a practice of conceptual and structural editing that both confronts initial intentions and integrates new desires.

This thesis considers the modernist office tower as an example of the conflicted condition that characterizes buildings approaching their expiration dates. While the public holds these towers in contempt for their sitelessness, the embodied carbon within the heavy structure outrules demolition and redevelopment.

Specifically, this project edits the Postbank Tower in Berlin, built in 1971. Because the original building privileges programmatic specificity over site specificity, my proposal challenges this existing prioritization, eschewing functional prescription in favor of programmatic ambiguity.

The editorial concept is driven by a structural re-grounding, resulting in a spatial entanglement of old and new structure, where strategic additions and subtractions make a new concept of the building legible.


Author: Erik Fichter.
Website: erikfichter.com
Location: Berlin, Germany.
University: Harvard GSD.
Year: 2022