Cambridge, MA —Boston-based architecture studio French 2D was commissioned to create a graphic facade to wrap an existing garage structure in Kendall Square. The studio sought to design a pattern that could transform and speak across scales, reflecting the location of the project between a residential neighborhood and the rapidly growing technology hub of Kendall Square.
Project Name: Kendall Garage
Firm Name: French 2D
French 2D Designs Graphic Facade for Kendall Square Garage
Photography by John Horner
Design Highlights: French 2D designed a graphic facade to wrap an existing garage structure in Kendall Square, Cambridge
The large scale graphic scrim measures 26,000 square feet and employs a tension frame and mesh fabric facade system Its pattern is a play on architectural detail and shadow effects that are meant to swirl, drift, and articulate into ‘characters’ along the garage’s long side, blurring and expanding the boundaries of two dimensional and three dimensional perception For the photography of the completed work, the French sisters acted as their own drawing scale figures in custom dresses of the same pattern as the garage
Architecture Firm: French 2D Facade system: Facid North America
Engineering and installation: Design Communications, Ltd.
The resulting largescale graphic scrim, measuring 26,000 square feet, employs a tension frame and mesh fabric facade system by Facid North America, and was engineered and installed by Design Communications, Ltd. Its pattern is a play on architectural detail and shadow effects that are meant to swirl, drift, and articulate into ‘characters’ along the garage’s long side, blurring and expanding the boundaries of twodimensional and three dimensional perception. The design manifests as a hybrid between largescale canvas and functional façade.
Cofounder Jenny French explains, “In this project, we are playing with the relationship between the drawing and the building. An exciting moment for us is seeing through the image from within the garage and realizing that you are now inside the drawing.”
In order to consolidate the reading of the structure as a single icon for its changing context in the Cambridge neighborhood, French 2D sought to present a protobuilding that could be read through the multiscale articulation of its facade, as both applied decoration and object. For the photography of the completed work, the French sisters acted as their own drawing scale figures in custom dresses of the same pattern as the garage.
French 2D cofounder Anda French expresses that “we are most interested in the moments of tension in architectural and graphics work where new, imagined, or recaptured depth emerges and can redefine a project. We played in the zone of contextual scale loosely translating windows, doors and building like objects with multiple cast shadows to produce a surreal quality. And in the architectural photography we ourselves became loosely translated scale figures, wandering the site as freed pieces of the drawing.”
FRENCH 2D is an architecture studio based in Boston, founded by principals Jenny French and Anda French. The studio’s work combines formal exploration and participatory design in residential, civic, and commercial projects.
French 2D works on housing and mixed- use projects that combine ideas of domesticity with more radical organizations and typologies. They work on civic installations and exhibitions that bring people together for familiar rituals in unfamiliar spaces. French 2D is a recipient of the 2019 Design Vanguard award from Architectural Record,was one of five finalists in the 2013 MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program. The firm was featured as Architect Magazine’s October 2017 Next Progressives, and invited to create an installation on Boston City Hall Plaza for HUBweek. French 2D was most recently recognized by Archinectin an article entitled “The New Wave of Female Powerhouses are Pushing the Boundaries of Professional Practice.” Anda serves on the Board of the Boston Society of Architects. Jenny is an Assistant Professor in Practice at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.