Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Architecture and Community Design

Major Professor

Michael Halflants, M. Arch


Puerto Rico, San Juan, Colonization, Domination, Fusion


As an important part of our lives, stories help us to form both our personal identities and the identities of the social groups that make up our society. They facilitate us to be in contact with our beliefs, our feelings, our knowledge, our perception, and what is significant to us. Similarly, we understand those very things from the stories of others. These stories are obtained through different ways: family, friends, literature, poetry, religion, teachers, movies, art, and so on. Through these, our culture is born and sustained. There is no doubt that architecture is an important defining element of our culture. For that reason, we must decisively evaluate its essential role in the communication of these stories.

Being more than just the planning, design and construction of a building, the architecture design process involves the manipulation of mass, space, volume, texture, light, shadow, materials, program, and other elements in order to achieve an end which is aesthetic as well as functional, and if taken further architecture can be experienced through the senses. When thinking about what architecture involves, I have to ask myself a question, can architecture take a more dynamic role in the transmission of our culture; generally, symbolically, and more particularly, by encouraging and reinforcing the dissemination of stories? In our modern-day western built-environment, museums have taken a most active role programmatically in the transmission of our culture and stories. My thesis will focus on this building type. During the last 30 years, museums have experienced a change from presenting real things to the creation of experiences.

In essence, exhibitions have transitioned from object-oriented to story-centered. How can architecture better provide this recently modified museum experience? Furthermore, what can architecture do to push this focus even further so that people are better able to absorb these stories and experiences? Before attempting to answer these questions however, I must explain how my thesis question will be explored in actual terms. Consequently, I will investigate how the architecture of a museum can further activate, reinforce, and promote a set of stories important to our culture and country as a whole. My thesis project will be a museum that portrays the sequence of events and cultural history of Puerto Rico. With this in mind, I would like to explore an effective method to convey and inform people about who we are and where we come from.

All the elements that had contributed to its creation give this culture the distinctive attributes to set it as the perfect model to use architecture as the tool that will disseminate our cultural history. Given the fact that it is very compelling for people to learn through visualization, the creation of a museum that reflects the Puerto Rican culture would be an outstanding tool to educate people. However, instead of designing a museum that merely houses artifacts, I want to create a museum that tells a story about about Puerto Rico's past and present.