Another Danse Macabre

Publicly Operated Urban Abattoir

"What is truly startling in this mass transition from life to death is the complete neutrality of the act.  One does not experience, one does not feel; one merely observes."

Sigfried Giedion, Mechanization Takes Command, 1948.

Program: Cattle Yard, Slaughterhouse, Distribution Facility 

Location: Rockefeller Center, NYC.

Sq. Ft.: 1200


Among many factors under scrutiny within the animal agricultural industry, a universally accepted problem concerns the humane treatment of the animals being brought to slaughter.  This project attempts to challenge the parties - namely, the consumer - who are complicit in creating the conditions in which these problems arise.  The challenge is served in an intentionally severe way, as well as avoiding pushing a "vegetarian agenda."  Consumers who desire beef as a component of their diet are required to participate in the slaughtering process.  Additionally, the public is kept aware of the repercussions of their choices by a blatant illustrative display of the process every day.  The aim instead is to create an environment of awareness in which we are able to question the tradition of architecture as being that which comforts, shelters, and otherwise hides the unmentionable.  As an exploration of a new kind of understanding in the architectural discourse, this project makes the user a central piece in the slaughtering process.  Imitating previous traditions in the early Chicago Union Stock Yards of the late 1800's, this particular abattoir requires that the consumer also be the executioner, and follow the cattle carcass downwards in a gravity-induced butchering line.

The aesthetics of the building are intentionally mechanistic, to further emphasize the transition to an environment of removal.  However, this is further articulated by positioning the mechanics to the exterior of the building.  Passers-by witness a ballet of death, while the interior is left close to bare in order to facilitate some type of communion between the consumer and the product.