Growing acceptance of Building Information Modeling (BIM) rests partly on a false assumption that it simulates buildings as we experience them. Actually, BIM software, like Revit®, merely offers alternative modes of abstraction, leaving open the persistent gap between digital models and physical objects. This thesis delineates that gap by revealing, subverting, and putting to use some latent abstractions in architecture.

Products are the architect’s primary digital and physical media today. They are manufactured, marketed, purchased, and importantly, they are imbued with digital content that architects coalesce into the translated, mediated substance known as building information. Products modeled in Revit® necessarily adopt functionality (system, component), hierarchy (family, type), category (door, floor), dependency (wall-based, face-based), geometry (extrusion, void), and limitless parameters. Such abstractions can only result in gaps between a product’s digital and physical behavior. In this thesis, these design decisions create specific spatial and representational possibilities.

Four model stores are proposed for Gap, Inc. The stores are filled with gaps. Each comprises a fixed quantity of building products (tiles, lights), aligned, arrayed, and grouped parametrically to produce gaps in finish surfaces that become sites for merchandise and branding. Retail uses (fitting, storage) follow similar parameters, staging atypical shopping experiences while conforming to area ratios derived from typical Gap stores. Gaps emerge, then, between views of the building information. Measurable quantities inscribed in tabular views (schedules, takeoffs) furnish a cloak of rationality, while bold patterns dismantle stale segmentations of products and shoppers in 2D and 3D views (plans, perspectives). The stores are critical, yet viable.

In 1969 Gap, Inc. made its business out of a generation gap in the denim market. If today there is a gap in architectural practice between fanatical BIM integration and cautious BIM rejection, between blind efficiency and deliberate inefficiency, this thesis falls into that gap and keeps falling.