Visionary architect and theorist Anne Tyng has designed a gallery-scale model that embodies her thinking about geometry over the last half century. This installation—built largely from Luan plywood—realizes the ambition of all her work: to inhabit geometry. Since the 1950s, when she worked closely with Louis I. Kahn and independently pioneered habitable space-frame architecture, Tyng has applied natural and numeric systems to built forms on all scales, from urban plans to domestic spaces.
Upon entering Tyng’s installation at ICA, visitors walk into the five Platonic solids, literally. Comprising a tetrahedron, cube, octahedron, icosahedron, and dodecahedron, each space is built to human scale and can be entered, explored, and comprehended. For optimum effect, visitors are invited to look through these open structures at the massive spiral that lifts from the wall and rotates towards the ceiling. This is how Tyng sees the world and derives her own built forms, through the symmetries, orders, and dynamic progressions by which one form in geometry becomes another. The exhibition also features a selection of drawings, models, and other documentation of past projects, including: City Tower (with Kahn, 1952-57); Urban Hierarchy (circa 1970); and the Four-Poster House (1971-74). There are also examples of Tyng’s publications and research, which investigate Jungian cycles, city squares, and the cosmos. Throughout, geometry is both rational and expressive, as much a means of contemplation as of calculation and construction.
Anne Tyng (1920–2011) was among the first women to receive a Masters of Architecture from Harvard University. Starting in 1947, she worked closely with Louis I. Kahn and was instrumental in the design of some of his iconic early projects, including the Trenton bath house and the Yale University Art Gallery. After 1986, she focused her attention on research, earning a doctoral degree from the University of Pennsylvania, where she later taught for almost thirty years.