The Generator, an early investigation into artificially intelligent architecture, was designed with no specific program, but only a desired end-effect, in mind.
The project was commissioned by Howard Gilman for a site at the Gilman Paper Corporation’s White Oak Plantation in Florida to provide a facility to house dance, theater, and visiting artists. Cedric Price explored a type of architecture that, like medicine, would operate less as a remedy for the ills of society and more as a preventive system, creating flexible conditions previously thought impossible within a socially beneficial environment. This complicated project, for which many drawings and diagrams were made, was essentially a system of cubelike elements that could be moved and combined with others or with additional elements to create temporary structures for a rehearsal or performance space, housing, or just contemplation within a lush natural setting. It was intended to operate by means of a central computer with which a visitor would combine any of 150 of the Generator’s four-by-four meter, fully serviced, air-conditioned cubes, or walls, screens, gangways, and communications channels into a structure. The computer would encourage the visitor to continually refine and improve his or her design. In fact, change and artistic freedom are the underlying ideas of the Generator; they were considered prerequisites, and the computer was to be programmed to make unsolicited alterations should the framework remain static. Price’s intricate scheme to provide an environment dedicated to nurturing the arts was never built.