Historic Site of Woodstock, New York
Built for Texas Tech University, ARCH IRL, 2022
Design - Build
Photographs by Breyden Anderson
Peeking out from among the trees on the historic grounds of the 1969 Woodstock Music and Art Fair, Peak-A-Boo takes shape as a continuous series of wood-laminate arches and decks which form a pavilion and flexible performance space. The installation stands as the first piece of programmable infrastructure in the Bindy Bazaar woods since the 1969 Woodstock festival and marks the beginning of the second phase of a three-year pilot program to develop a signature art and architecture festival at the site. Curated by Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, the project was meant to reengage the historic site with design-build pedagogies and was fabricated/installed by Texas Tech University students as part of the summer course, Architecture IRL, led by Neal Lucas Hitch and i/thee.
The design process started off-site at Texas Tech University, where students modeled various “quilted” wood-laminate design solutions by hand with scaled materials. These models were then translated into computational scripts that allowed for rapid prototyping and analysis. The final design consists of over sixty quarter-inch plywood sheets, elastically deformed and laminated together to form a pixelated bending-active structure. This “wave” of bent plates is then supplemented by six laminated timber arches digitally constructed to mimic the natural bending of the wood sheathing.
The structure, in its entirety, was fabricated by students on-site at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts in the historic Bindy Bazaar—a craft bazaar and marketplace used as the main entry sequence for the 1969 Woodstock festival that has been in the process of restoration since 2017. Construction started with the hand-cutting of over 180 unique pieces, which were glue-laminated together to form the ribbed substructure. Plywood sheets were next secured along the laminated arched members with screws and tied together with rivets. Conceptually, the project aims to bridge fraught binaries between analog and digital production modes; the structure was designed using computational digital tools and analyses but was constructed primarily by hand tools in-situ.
The result is a soaring structure, light as a feather but stiff as a board, cascading through the tree canopy like a wooden waterfall or magic carpet. Though it was built over the course of two weeks, the structure is embedded within the landscape—shrouded and punctured by forest flora—as if it has been there since 1969, awaiting rediscovery. Ultimately, the justification for the structure lies in its ability to shape diverse and comfortable experiences: its arches creating the bandshells for performers to play under; its decks becoming the tiered seating for audience members; the pixelated surface providing an undulating canvas for dancing shadows seeping through the forest clerestory.