Final Station Design 12/10/2009
The crux of my project relied heavily on site and the existing context. With the City Hall Max stop only a quarter of a mile away and new development along the intersection of Civic Drive and the Max line, I wanted this stop to not only impart the infrastructure of a waiting area, but also embody a gathering of community.
The distinctive wooded site to the south of the Max line provided a natural landscape that I treated as an amenity for the community, but also an opportunity to retain and engage local habitat in the developing neighborhood.
The nearest park to this Civic Drive neighborhood is 1.06 miles away and while this community is rated 75% “very walkable,” it is still heavily dominated by auto traffic.
In desiring to foster a relationship between both sides of the tracks, I designed two looping structures that hold the two divergent ecologies on either side, to the north, a formal park space and to the south, a natural habitat area.
Each form holds to their corresponding environment; the tighter curve to the south clutches the natural habitat and walking paths; while the more open curve to the north is a slower-paced move connecting to the Max path destined for Portland. Together these woven structures meet above the transit stop for a brief opening and opportunity to switch paths.
The design provides accessibility on multiple levels, waiting areas for the train, a means to travel through the neighborhood, and the integration of habitat for local species. The grid-structure of the intersecting forms provides a light and open environment for the users and the various functions of this design generate more activity on the site providing a safe environment.
Seasonal changes in the landscape will affect the visual character and animal species of the station. Seasonal and local plantings will be integrated throughout the platforms and the latticed shelters.
Initially, I had envisioned the structure composition to be concrete. Upon further investigation and discussion, I changed it to a steel structure together with wood slat platforms. I created the wood and steel structure for the mock-up including real grass to embody the green slits throughout.
While the design and aesthetic are appealing to me in it’s own right, I made a mistake switching the original concept of the structure. The idea is to encourage and capture the movement of the train and that of the pedestrian and the fluid nature of the form lends more to concrete than to steel. My hesitation with concrete came at the mid-review when a concern about a “pedestrian freeway” was raised. In the end, I should have chosen the material I had initially imagined, but it was the material study that led me to this conclusion and without it, I’m not sure I would have come to this realization.
I took on a broader view on sustainability for this project. My case study of the projects from NL Architects exhibits this idea of multi-functionality. To invest money into a built project, especially in today’s economy and in our consume/throw away culture, the idea of encompassing multiple functions within a single project is necessary to reduce our impact on the earth.
Adding the plantings within the structure also attest to the sustainability at a smaller scale. The green introduces impervious surface for rainwater run-off, a natural filter for sunlight and habitat for local species.
Light & Shadow
My initial light studies of creating a grid and layering various scales within that structure have influenced this final light study. The latticework of the bisecting forms creates a multiple windows for the light to filter and the changing nature of the form alters the aperture size, ultimately enhancing the dynamic light quality. The green wall woven into this grid structure also produces a new effect of changing patterns and colors based on planting type and time of year.
What I learned…
What I will most take away from this class is learning a new program, which will be valuable in my design process in the future. I was excited to take on Rhino, but found what a complex program it really is. While I struggled quite a bit, the scale of the project made it manageable and I will be able to tackle something larger next time.
I also learned the advantage of distilling down to one primary goal and to not be sidetracked by other influences. While difficult to do throughout a nine-week process with multiple projects, I think it allows for the most successful end result.
Unlikely Potential 11/02/2009
NL Architects is known for their progressive and integrative approach in creating the built environment. Tackling environmental, cultural and political issues, NL Architects is highly critical of the urban and sub-urban condition. The firm is known for integrating heterogeneous program into a single structure in order to engage a broader population and promote community interaction. They design buildings or objects that while appear stationary, foster movement inside, outside and even on the building.
I will highlight four projects NL architects have designed illustrating the principles I mentioned above: Wos8, Basketbar, A8ernA and the BoomBench.
Wos8 is a heat distribution relay station in Utrecht, Netherlands. This building recycles the leftover energy from the water cooling turbine fans from a local power plant. This waste energy provides heat and hot water to new housing nearby. The intention of the building was not only to recycle this energy, but it was placed in the city of Leidsche Rijn’s public space. The limited accessibility of this type of building is prone to vandalism, but the building becomes a community activator. One side of the structure is covered in artificial climbing holds, another side a basketball hoop, and another holds nesting boxes for local bird species. Also, the heavy rainfall in the Netherlands creates opportunities for rainwater catchment. Spouts and cisterns have been added to this building to provide intriguing visual effects.
Basketbar is the gathering place for the University of Utrecht campus. Placed at a major cross street of the campus, the Basketbar was introduced as the place for professors and students to socialize. Off the back of OMA’s Educatorium, the Basketbar is a continuation of the bookstore and the addition of a cafe on the ground level, followed by an exterior sunken “pool” for seating and skateboarding. The basketball court is located above the café also acting as the roof of the structure. The center of the court is cut out and filled with glass to provide a visual connection.
A8earnA is reutilization of existing infrastructure to unite two sides of town. The underside of a bridge was a forgotten spot in the city for many years. Instead of seeing this as derelict space, it was finally seen as an opportunity to do something different. The once blind spot is now a community center filled with various activities driven by the input of the citizens. A designated graffiti area, skate park, mini-marina, basketball court, soccer field, supermarket, flower shop and areas for parking.
The BoomBench is a technology-integrated piece of street furniture that plays music from cell phones via Bluetooth. Not only does is provide amenities to the public sphere in a functional way, it offers a fun way to interact with the surrounding environment through innovative art.
The multi-functionality of these projects is the driver of my interest. By integrating unlikely program into infrastructural projects or various functions into a single project, NL Architects is trying to maximize the potential of each project. The term “mixed-use” is on the lips of every architect and developer as the latest promotion of development, but we aren’t utilizing existing structures and maximizing the potential that exists within our design capabilities. In order for Civic Drive to become a community spot for the neighborhood, exploring the unimaginable capacity of this public amenity is the direction for success.
Schematic Site Design 10/29/2009
Tony, Kate and I worked together this past week to develop a conceptual site design. Initially, when we first shared our impressions of the site, we had similar thoughts about our experience. The natural landscape gave us a perception that the transit stop was in a valley sandwiched between a hill and trees. While we all came to the same conclusion, our perception did not match the topography map sent to us by the city. The incline of the hill was much less steep than we remembered and the housing development to the northwest is not as far a distance as we held in our memory. That said; we found the disparity of the perception and the reality an interesting topic for exploration.
The concept of carving the station out of the land led to the idea of the plaster model. We wanted to create our concept as a group and use craft to express the nature of it. The natural features inherent at the site are an usual feature along the MAX line. Civic Drive is also a point along the line that can be seen as an entrance to and an exit from Gresham. By making a bold gesture we were celebrating the existing landscape and creating a public amenity for the community.
The framework for the site is set and now our individual projects can explore how the natural landscape can inform and coalesce with the built environment.
Plaster Site Model 10/26/2009
Tony, Kate and I built a plaster site model for the schematic site design project. See above posting for more details on the project.
Shade Study 10/16/2009
The design of the sun shade was driven from the initial light studies we did two weeks ago. By taking a simple grid structure, I was able to manipulate the form dependent on the filtering of light and foster a sense of movement in a static object. I modeled the sun shade in Rhino which allowed for flexibility in form structure and brought it back into Revit to test the shadow studies. From our discussions as a class, I knew the vertical and horizontal elements were needed to block the western sun. I wanted this shade to read as one dynamic element that transformed across the single window. The first two images are of the 3D model in Rhino and the rest are of the combined models in Revit. By setting the location to Portland, OR and setting the sun to late afternoon in August, I was able to test the worst indoor conditions of the office space. The designed shade covers most of the widow area in this realm of testing, but I was not able to model fully in Ecotect to calculate the thermal analysis. I am hoping with more practice, I will be able to learn the complexities of the program; I think it will be a great tool for further studies.
Light Study 10/10/2009
I was interested in manipulating light in simple ways in order to understand the changes that were taking place. I wanted to see how a simple structure could be manipulated slightly to contrast the regulatory with the unexpected; I kept the variables to a minimum by creating a grid structure and using all white materials. From there, I played with the aperture size, the connection points, the scale and eventually the internal transformation of the grid.
The first test involved white paper and a 2” x 2” grid structure. I created a smaller system within the larger structure. The material choice of plain paper and tape gave the grid a flexible quality creating organic voids between the grid form. By placing a translucent sheet on top of this structure, the shadows were manifested in a variety of ways related to the changes in aperture.
The second screen was a simple iteration of the first. I was interested in keeping the uniform grid structure, but manifesting it at a larger scale. I kept this as a 2-D panel, but again analyzed the aperture size. The random pattern of closed, partially open and open was designed to foster movement across the panel. By manipulating the panel’s planar quality, the patterns created from the shadows help to emphasize movement.
The final panel I used the grid structure as an underlay. From there, I transformed the grid into a simple pattern to see how the geometric form could become more organic through repetition. This pattern was also created one white paper, but with an added glossy finish. The tonal value of the transformed grid was a clear and beautiful way to read the effect of light. The contrast was most evident in the natural light when a translucent panel was added as the final layer and the first two grid formations cast a more elusive pattern.
M.C. Escher 10/05/2009
The transformation of Escher's work and the simple composition of figure ground creates intricate patterns that reveal an entirely new composition within a painting. The repetition of a single figure creates voids that in turn become their own figure. This rhythm is continued as one object becomes another and so on. These paintings and the clean use of white and black are inspiring to me as I try to understand the inherent patterns created from light and shadow. The paintings, while two dimensional, foster a sense of movement and carry the viewer’s eyes in more than one direction across the canvas. The moving geometry and pattern is an avenue I’d like to pursue in designing the light panels.
In the dark 10/02/2009
We kicked off the quarter by playing in dark. Using various found materials and different light sources, we were able to capture some intriguing shadows and patterns.