Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Moleskine Grand Central Terminal entry, Architecture League of NY

Grand Central Terminal
The Moleskine Grand Central Terminal Sketchbook, Architecture League of NY competition
Pencil, watercolor and photoshop on Arches, hot pressed paper
6.30.12 - 7.2.12

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Holiday Card 2011

After walking the Brooklyn Bridge a couple times this month, and visiting the new Jean Nouvel structure over Jane's Carousel, I decided to do a painting and make it my 2011 Holiday Card. My first watercolor instructor (Virginia Cartwright) told us it takes a beginner 100 watercolors before they are happy with one...I think i'm right about at my 100th.

The inside reads:

To love without condition, and to the permanence of its effect. 
In Memory of G. Nicholas Venezia (1921-2011)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Presentation at The University of Oregon

I flew back to Eugene last week to give a presentation of my work to the community in Lawrence Hall. Thanks to all students and professors who came out, despite the short notice. It was my first formal 'lecture' style presentation of this nature, and I think it went really well. I got some great feedback and continue to have follow-up conversations on the ideas and the work that was presented. I hope to give this presentation again soon, as I look for venues to display some of the work to a larger, student-based audience. Special thanks to Hannah Bryant for setting up the camera so I could get this thing online.

communicatingArchitecture Portfolio

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Final Thesis Presentation and Boards!

Depending on motivation, i'll probably follow these pictures up with another more descriptive post. But for now, here is my work from our final review along with some pictures from the festivities!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

updated model pics from thesis midterm

the model I made for our review, acrylic and museum board:

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Thesis: 'Buildings for the Productive City' overview

Last Friday we had our 'final' review of the term, which was really the midterm review of a two-term thesis project. Here are some photos of my presentation, followed by a description of the project.

Thesis (or 'terminals') is meant to be a two-term, advanced design studio, the culmination of our efforts and abilities thus far in our careers. This is the call for our project:
Buildings for the Productive City: projects on Portland's Eastside
The city as a place of production rather than only consumption is an essential ingredient in urban sustainability. A city of manufacturing - and now, urban agriculture - may be a place of innovation, in which wealth is being created and recycled to benefit the city itself. The purpose of this studio is to investigate this idea, with the design of buildings that serve this kind of local, regenerative economy.
Entering the fall term, I did have an agenda regarding my approach to this project. I have not designed a building since my third term in the program (two years ago) so first and foremost I wanted to do so. How have I avoided designing buildings in architecture school? Well, school only takes you through what is called 'schematic design' of a project. This is the first of four phases, followed typically in practice by 'design development', 'construction documents' and construction. The point of school is not to become good at designing buildings, rather to understand and experiment with how best to communicate your design intentions. To be good at this part of the process (schematic design) is invaluable for a group of people to proceed effectively to subsequent phases when design decisions are made at a furious rate. In school there is room for the critique of a design itself (especially at Oregon), but the majority of the conversation should revolve around the effectiveness of a student's methods of communication. I have generally embraced and enjoyed the early phases of schematic design, taking my ideas as far as possible without really getting into the building itself. The one exception to this is my involvement as a project manager for a bike shelter (Camas Pedal), which has provided the basis of my education regarding the scale of the built environment as well as the process of making real projects happen. So it is from this underlying agenda that I approached our thesis studio project.

The question of productivity in the city was most influenced by a summer research trip to Guanghzou, China, a city of production unlike any other I had experienced. The overwhelming emotion coming off that trip was best described as insignificance. It felt impossible to design a building and expect it to add or detract from this larger idea of productivity (in Portland nonetheless). So I started to look at the implications of architectural productivity. In other words, all external circumstances aside (economy in particular), how can architecture be productive? After a fall term seminar of debate about this idea, and coming to terms with the fact that it could be perceived that I was largely ignoring one of the more evocative questions the studio was asking, I came down to a fundamental proposition; the most productive thing a building can do is last. Human beings will use a building for whatever they need at a given time (e.g. Guangzhou) so long as it remains erect. The least productive thing a building can do for its city is to be knocked down in place of another (ignoring the potential symbolic value of such an event). Really, this truth was heavily influenced by two other experiences (documented in this post about Frank Gehry's Disney Concert Hall). From those experiences came these understandings:

1. A tiny percentage of the buildings on this earth are designed by architects.
2. Within this tiny percentage, an even smaller percentage are designed well.

Knowing this, in reaction to being fully immersed in the conversations generated by the sustainability movement, I believe it valid for a student of architecture to dedicate her efforts solely to the pursuit of a well designed space. It should be just as much a part of the conversation in architectural education as anything else.

So that's where I started. I wanted to design a good building, one that would inspire productivity, one that would last for the rest of Portland's existence. The rest will be explained using the materials seen in the pictures of my presentation (above).

We were given the choice of about ten different sites along Morrison and Belmont in the Buckman neighborhood of Southeast Portland. On one of these blocks is an existing building called the Yale Union Laundry Building. Originally built in 1909, it has seen three owners and is now a landmark on the National Registry of Historic Places. I was immediately drawn to the potential of using this site in some way for my thesis. After some deliberation I decided to do an adaptive reuse and addition, hoping to draw on the building's longevity and challenge myself to design something to fit such a rigid historic context.

I was drawn to the following characteristics of the existing building, through which I want to focus my efforts in designing the new addition:

photo taken by author
1. Exterior character/historical significance - The neighborhood has a sentimental attachment to this building that is strictly dependent on a relationship to its external appearance. I believe this to be the most influential characteristic allowing an urban building to last. When a community feels connected to the appearance of a building, it will last longer.

image found in application for National Register here
2. Design for the current program - While the previous characteristic is the most important, it is only made possible by this one. For as long as an occupant uses her building, it must be designed to facilitate her needs. In the case of the YUL Building, which was a laundry service for over fifty years before turning into an automotive parts manufacturer, open space was the biggest design consideration to allow for large machinery. It is important not to confuse this characteristic with the flexibility inherent in designing similar warehouse-like buildings. I am not saying open space is good for all programs just because it is easier to adaptively reuse it. I am saying that when a building is designed well for the first occupant(s), they will be able to use it for the foreseeable future. In the case of a business, a well designed building will not prevent the occupant from operating successfully. This characteristic of program specific design adds a level of specificity that may make adaptive reuse difficult. 

photo taken by author
3. Wow-factor - For lack of a better term, this building is full of thresholds between spaces that result in a positive reaction ("WOW!"). The most notable of these spaces (shown above) is the large gallery space that inspired the current owners to buy and renovate the property in order to turn it into an art center. 

It was the discovery of the current owner (who is in the process of renovating the building) that led me to adopt their existing program as my own for this thesis (it can be seen on their website). Until then, I was looking for a program that was intentionally arbitrary with respect to the studio's call for productivity in the city. As mentioned above, I wanted to spend time designing this thing, not making up the program. It was pure coincidence that the tenant happens to be The YU Contemporary Art Center, an artist in residency program with ambitions to have a dramatic impact on the neighborhood and the city of Portland (see related articles here and here). I say coincidence because as far as potential programs are concerned, this one is rather closely linked with the idea of production and its impact on the city. 

Here are some diagrams I developed in anticipation of the final review. The first two images are of the parti and the design process that led to the parti. The second two relate to one of the primary approaches of the design - the relationship of the new addition to the existing building. 

the parti
evolution of the parti

a detail of the following diagram 

MODELS - I have used models throughout the term to communicate my intentions. The design lends itself to physical modeling, and I hope to further explore this medium next term.