Ragdale Sings

Ragdale Ring

2019 — Competition Finalist

Team Members: Lily Hernandez

Architectural Design

Once upon a time, five animated Lines sang festively together on the pages of Howard van Doren Shaw’s favorite sketchbook. Like strings on a lute, each Line enjoyed plucking and bending to sing in harmony. The Lines loved making undulating shapes that echoed the profiles of the very soundwaves that gave voice to their songs.

One day, Line 3 heard Mr. Shaw’s associate suggest that “architecture is like frozen music.” Line 3 instantly contracted with fear! She was proud to delineate the stuff of architecture, but never did she want to be frozen. Quickly, she hatched a plan to escape the confines of the sketchbook pages in order to participate in the dynamic world outside. While her four companions jittered at the notion of abandoning their familiar paper habitat, in due time she convinced them to join her.

Very early on the first morning of spring, the Lines cautiously crept off the pages of Shaw’s sketchbook and slithered onto the Ragdale lawn. Sinking their linear toes into the grass, the Lines formed a rippling ring. Eager to avoid any possibility of a frozen future, the Lines set out to make themselves useful for summer music-making and performance. Like “talk tubes” on a playground, these friendly conduits opened their vocal chords for human companions to engage in secret conversation, impromptu interactions, and sonic amplification.

A Pocket Universe
Each sound tube twists and turns in space to delineate five “pockets” of activity along the perimeter of the ring, accentuated by athletic-field-like turf paint graphics. The largest pocket provides a sheltered enclosure for the main stage of performance. The cutout pattern of a waterproof fabric canopy overhead recalls the distinctive silhouette of the original 1912 Ragdale Ring arcade and shelters performers from the elements. Other perimeter pockets create opportunities for a secondary stage, bleacher seating, bench seating, and a porch swing. The sound tubes link each pocket into an aural network. As a non-hierarchical amphitheatre, Ragdale Sings invites performers to explore and experiment with nontraditional and distributed performance setups in and around the ring.