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The term megastructure describes a gigantic building involving many different kinds of use. The type was first proposed theoretically in the eighteenth century, but for modern architecture, the term is associated with one special requirement, that vertical structure alone is fixed in place, and that every other component is movable and without permanent use. Not surprisingly, the true megastructure remains a theoretical possibility only. No one needs such total flexibility; it is very expensive, and communities tend to resist building at megalomaniacal scale. Megastructure, by default, now refers either to a medium-sized building designed to look as if its components can be rearranged at will or simply to a very large building of extended, usually linear form. Two of the most successful built in the sixties are Paul Rudolph's Boston Government Service Center and John Andrews's Scarborough College .
Both are continuous linear compositions comprising at least six main units. These are differentiated from each other in response to the complex programs they serve, and some of them are further differentiated from top to bottom within themselves. At Scarborough the segments are linked by an internal street along one side, so that every part can be reached without going outdoors. The Boston Service Center was to have had an office tower as its focal point, the low line of buildings coiled around it to make a contained plaza . Scarborough is designed without a major vertical emphasis, but it also changes axis five times in response to its rural site.
The Service Center is self-contained and, except for its tower cannot easily be added to; the College is intended to grow by incremental additions at both ends. Rudolph's manner of introducing variety has a certain consistency throughout in the use of thin vertical piers and long horizontals, the turns or jogs being marked by curvilinear masses. Andrews marks the turns less prominently, but the segments are vertically accentuated at one end, horizon tally at the other.
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