Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Developing Design through the lens of Buster Keaton...well, sort of.

Soup to nuts, nuts and bolts, bolts and bits, bits and bytes. In a phrase, this is the objective of the final course in the construction sequence of UVa's MArch curriculum.

Representing the assembly of a panelized classroom, whose program is undefined but whose design and constructional intent requires substantial development, on one large presentation board is the objective of this project.

The panel is wood construction: a simple stud-framed, highly insulated, structural unit containing one small window for light. By craftily rotating the panels during construction, the layout of panels and apertures comprising each interior and exterior elevation becomes less of a regular pattern and more a field composition that frames particular views within and without the classroom. A skylight that wraps to meet the ground as a storefront system helps to visually separate the board-formed concrete fire stair tower. These two elements--i.e. stair and classroom--thus operate as individual volumes connected by thresholds of light. This idea continues in the separation of the "wet-unit" or water closet, which one accesses outside the classroom under a timber framed pergola. Due to this progression of varying light conditions, the interior and exterior spaces change markedly throughout the day and the seasons. The adopted program then is a classroom for photography. Moments of curious light, shadow, contrast, and reflection provide the venue for understanding the complex technical and creative processes of photography.

If the project were to continue, greater attention would be given to the reuse of the lumber from the formwork of the on-site concrete pouring. For the purposes of reapplication to the facades, not only would the amount of lumber need to be calculated in greater detail, but the details of attachment would also require further resolution.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Hines Competition - Short List

The last months have been full--fraught, even. Within this spell, four colleagues from the UVa School of Architecture and I entered the ULI Gerald D. Hines Urban Design Competition. Our site was located in the East Village of San Diego, which sits at an interesting nexus of urban, social, and geological conditions. Our proposal sought to extend the positive characteristics of San Diego's urban fabric, create active urban spaces, and establish an economically and socially diverse neighborhood type based on flexible zoning and building typologies.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Crisman Studio: NOLAcademy for The Arts

The site, one mile from the French Quarter and a little more to downtown New Orleans, sits between Piety and Desire. These are streets, not qualities nor feelings. The flood wall forms a boundary to the South, a neighborhood of interspersed residences and small industrial and commercial enterprises extends in every other direction. Two large industrial buildings lie adjacent to the site, augmenting the low-rise character of the surroundings.

In this context, a vertical approach to building seems more appropriate than extending the horizontal patchwork of the neighborhood. By stacking the program along the street's edge and densifying a portion of the site, dedicated green space remains available for the school and the community. At ground level, this urban strategy could function as a barrier. The prescribed street edge, then, is open and inviting. Gallery and cafè space along the street draw interest and begin to reveal the abilities and educational approach of the institution within. Further along Chartres St, productive gardens extend this idea and provide a display and learning space for the culinary arts program, one of the disciplines supported by this institution. The facades of the project fulfill a similar purpose for the other disciplines. The literal frames created by the pop-out windows along the principle facade are vitrine-like displays for the work of students of painting, sculpture, and music.

The interior courtyard of the Arts School provides another type of learning space. The outdoor classroom at the South edge of the site, as well as the circulation spaces that tie the classrooms, the theater, and the dormitories together all look down on to the courtyard, which becomes both a classroom and a display space. The canopy above the outdoor classroom directs stormwater towards the productive gardens and lends the courtyard plentiful cover from the sun and rain; it also directs the prevailing winds from the natural levee through the plantings of the court, cooling them in the process. Taking a cue from this process, the louvered, south-facing facade of the classroom wing retains both heat and water, tempering the climate within the circulation corridors and relieving the mechanical systems of the conditioned classrooms behind.

The final piece is the theater. The angle of its underbelly--a reflection of the theater seating above--signals its purpose and provides another covered space for students to gather. Its insulated, translucent skin subtly reveals the performances within and lights the staircases which connect it to the rest of the school and to the street. At the entrance atrium, embedded within this skin is a color-coded monitor for energy use (see model photographs), encouraging the students to conserve resources and comprehend the school's adoption of passive design strategies.

The NOLAcademy for the Arts is a microcosm of the layered city, a concept New Orleans might need to embrace as it repopulates and redevelops.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Oh Vicenza...

Finally compiled, the following images are a sampling of drawings from the UVa summer studio in Vicenza, Italy, for which I was the teaching assistant. You can also access the complete booklet online. It is best viewed in the "Two-Up Continuous" viewing format.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Another Year, Another Semester

Studio has begun once again, and the first project was an interesting one. "Design a small tower for a jazz musician-in-residence within Congo Square (in New Orleans) that can run off the grid," they said. My response was a structure that establishes a new gateway into the square and acts as a beacon to more distant parts of the city, hopefully drawing visitors into this rich cultural site.

In the end, I came to think of this project as a filter of different flows and actions. The tower filters views into the square, it filters the surrounding environment (light, wind, water), and it filters people into a dynamic institution embodied by the ever-changing jazz musician and the tower itself. At each step, the tower renders the presently inscrutable square, the natural elements and their related energy flows, and even jazz music more accessible to New Orleanians and visitors.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Graphics and Mapping

Mapping is assuredly an analytical skill that benefits a design process; however, if one thinks about mapping creatively, it can inform a design itself.

The following examples, created as part of a graphics studio instructed by Jorg Sieweke, regard mapping in a creative, even generative, manner. They are serious and humorous alike, but hopefully provocative enough to encourage a deeper understanding of the data.

602 Final Studio Project

The summer has provided its fair share of distractions. As a result, I've been slow to post my final project from the first year.

My proposal focused on reshaping the landscape surrounding UVa's Curry School of Education, positing a series of classrooms for elementary school students, and a culinary school for the community. The two groups and their provided spaces then meet in a productive agricultural landscape garden.

The classrooms, the associated administrative spaces, and the dining hall provide the students an itinerate experience, which resembles daily life in a town. That is, multiple locations provide necessary services and amenities.

The culinary school makes available kitchen space to the community. Not only can citizens take cooking classes, but they can process crops from the school itself as well as their own crops. One might call this an 'open source' method of passing along knowledge about food.

The focus in both of these institutions is the relationship of cultivated nature to human survival. Additionally, the project explores the connection of agricultural hinterland to urban node. The hope is to provide students with a rich background in the physical, social, and organizational constructs of a productive and self-sustaining urban environment. This is a skill set our future citizens must acquire.

The architecture and landscape design respond to these intentions by providing spatial relationships that resemble the itinerate quality of the institution as a whole. Each structure and its constructed landscape connect to the following and provide a layered spatial experience--each layer fulfills a different educational purpose. The process of water and solar collection are expressed clearly, so to explain the pertinent concepts, cycles, and flows of these resources.

Lesson learned: Make more models...faster.