Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Infill housing Development Project- Surrounding Communities


 This site was very challenging because it is sort of a center point for multiple communities with a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds.  Before beginning the design process, I felt as though it was very important to get a feeling of the overall context of the surrounding communities.   The following sheets on this blog posting quickly summarizes the surrounding communities.

So as one can see, the major hurdle to this site is designing a community that compliments, or ties together, the surrounding communities.

Infill housing Development Project

The first project for the Graduate Studio III class was an infill housing development.  The site, seen below in a google earth image, is located in Starkville, MS, on the corner of Scales and Whitfield Streets.
Below is the problem statement and a project schedule, which was to be used as a guide throughout the design process.

Eyelevel Perspectives for Cohousing Development

This post contains perspectives used to illustrate the different spaces within the design.  Two eye-level perspectives can be seen below.
The perspective to the right illustrates the courtyard areas created by the single family detached housing units.  I believe these spaces would be good for such amenities as play areas for children.  The perspective to the right is a view of the courtyard, created by the single family attached housing units, as seen by a player on the east end of the bocci court.
This perspective is a birds-eye view of the site.  The view is from the northeast portion of the community gardens, facing southwest across the development.  The main purpose of this drawing is to show the major spaces created by the trees and housing units.

Cohousing Project Detail Plan

For the final phase of the Cohousing Development project, we were asked to fully develop one area of the preliminary plan, seen below.
For the detail plan, I chose to focus on the space created by the single family attached housing units.  The Detail Plan can be seen below.
As you can see from the plan above, the Bocce Court was placed in the formal courtyard created by the single family attached housing units.  As mentioned earlier the view from the courtyard to the west is terminated by the arbor structure, which shelters the outdoor fireplace and pizza oven area.  This area is designed with movable tables and chairs, ideal for lounging or dining.  There are pedestrian lights to illuminate the spaces at night.  There are two raised seating planters for bocce spectators and people enjoying the outdoors.  As the eye moves east, across the central open space, the feeling gets to be less formal, until you reach the community garden area.  At noon, during the solstices and equinoxes, the public art sculpture casts a shadow which lands in the middle of the boulders placed in the design.  The tree formation in the community garden area represents the star constellation Canis major.  This constellation contains the largest star in the sky, Serrius.  The Ancient Egyptians said Serrius could be seen in the sky on the night before the summer solstice, which meant the next day the Nile would rise (this process was the backbone of their agriculture).  Because of this, the constellation is positioned to be viewed standing on the boulder receiving the summer solstice shadow.  The red line connecting the fruit trees is actually an 18" red fiberglass box, which is illuminated at night.  The fruit trees themselves have up lighting so that their effect can be noticed at night, at the time people enjoy the stars.  I feel as though this design definitely promotes a sense of community within the development.  Finally, as mentioned above, the view from the central courtyard to the east is terminated by the greenhouses and ornamental grasses.

Cohousing Project Preliminary Plan

For the preliminary phase of this project, I chose to develop conceptual plan 1.  The major deciding factor for choosing plan 1 was the fact that all the single family attached homes addressed the common green, as well as created smaller courtyards extending off the common green.  There was still one major problem that remained to be solved, "How do I address Collegeview Street, while also designing with the existing topography on site?"
This plan was very symmetrical, and I was still not pleased that the school buildings isolated the courtyards from each other, as well as the gathering space, which tied all areas of the development together.  Another problem I had was that the gathering space, which was to have a fireplace and pizza ovens, was too far away from the community, which would result in it not getting used very often.  The preliminary plan I developed, based on these major design issues can be seen below.

As a solution to addressing Collegeview Street, I oriented the southern half of the site with the street and left the northern half unchanged.  The entire site was moved south, so that it would be possible to address Collegeview Street.  The school buildings were moved to front Collegeview Street.  The buildings are meant to be mixed use, with businesses and a bus station on the bottom floors and classrooms on the upper floor.
The outdoor gathering space, with fireplace and pizza ovens was relocated to terminate the view to the west from the single family attached housing courtyard.  The greenhouses were relocated to terminate the view of the openspace to the east.  I was very pleased at the direction this project was going, but because of time restrictions left in the semester we had to proceed without fully completing this portion of the design.

Conceptual Plan 2

This post will cover the second Conceptual Plan that is developed during the fast paced class exercise.  The plan can be seen below.
In this conceptual plan, the single family attached units still formed a formal courtyard.  The school buildings were moved to the outer edges to terminate the view to the north and south, while in the formal courtyard.  The single family detached units were arranged to be their own separate communities, within the cohousing community.  I felt as though this solution did not promote a sense of community as well as conceptual plan 1.
Below are two sections of the plan (the cut lines can be seen on the plan above).

Monday, November 29, 2010

Conceptual Plan 1

The next class period we were asked to choose one of the two functional diagrams we created and develop two conceptual plans, with two sections per plan.  This post will cover Conceptual Plan 1, as seen below.
I liked this plan because the single family attached units, seen in light blue, created a formal courtyard.  I felt this would help bring residents together, especially with the bocce ball court being in this area.  The single family detached units are arranged to create several smaller courtyards, while defining the edges of the common green.  The two common houses were placed to terminate the view on either end of the common green.  Mixed use buildings were placed along Collegeview Street, but this exceeded the limits set in the project description and would have to be removed before moving into the preliminary plan.  The major flaws in this plan are: 1. The community does not address Collegeview Street 2.  The two school buildings separate the courtyard created by the single family attached housing, in essence creating two separate courtyards with a central gathering space isolated from both spaces.
The two sections, whose cut lines can be seen in the Conceptual Plan above, can be viewed below.

Functional Diagrams

Based on the project description, we were given the task of working out two functional diagrams within the two hour class period.  Functional Diagrams one and two can be seen below.
Cohousing Project Functional Diagram (Option 1)
Cohousing Project Functional Diagram (Option 2)
Because of the rapid pace of this assignment, these two diagrams are very similar.  I decided to use option 1 as a starting point for the design.  I knew this was a very rough diagram to begin with, and the final product would probably stray away from this original vision.

Cohousing Project Background and Concept Statement

The site is located on Collegeview Street, just west of the Mississippi State University campus.  Currently the space is being used as student housing, with some units containing families.  A majority of the residents are of various ethnic backgrounds.  Currently, the site is being considered for revitalization.  The image, as seen from google earth, is below.
Google Earth Image of Site.
Collegeview Street, the major street south of the site, is extremely wide and does not have adequate sidewalks.  There are many residences, mainly students of the university, to the west of the site, but the street gets very little pedestrian traffic.  Most pedestrians choose to walk a little further in order to walk down University Drive, a much more pleasant street located south of Collegeview Street in an area called the Cotton District.  The concept statement used to drive the design can be seen below.
Cohousing Project Concept Statement

Project 3- Cohousing Development

Due to the limited amount of time remaining in the semester, project three was extremely fast paced, with most of the work being completed within a two hour class time frame.  The program for the student co-housing project is posted below.

LA 8532 Graduate Design III
Project 3: Student Co-Housing Program  
Professors: Taze Fulford and Jeremiah Dumas
Assigned: Nov, 2010

Over the next few weeks you will be asked to complete various tasks during class concerning a project related to a student co-housing development. The site is located at the Aiken Village site on the campus of MSU. Your goal is to create a sustainable development that not only acts as an entry to the campus but looks at utilizing the stormwater as an amenity for the campus in terms of aesthetics and educational opportunities. The following is the program you will need to implement into the design.


2 – 5000 total Square foot Common House with 6 interior units
40 - 800 Square foot (Footprint) detached/attached units
3 - Small Green Houses (1000 sq ft)
2 Classroom buildings at 1000 sq ft (footprint) each
Common Green
Bocci Court
Outdoor Fireplace/Pizza Oven in a gathering space
Bicycle Parking
Recycling Stations
Connectivity (Pathways, etc.)
Vegetable Gardens
Appropriate Stream Buffer
Stream restoration and Educational Opportunities
Transit stop and parking for 100 vehicles

Because I am not comfortable designing at a fast pace at this point in my career,
I was very uncomfortable going into this project. The following series of posts will document my progress from beginning to end.

A Review of the Burning Man Lecture

As part of the Graduate Studio III, the class was asked to attend a lecture by Dr. Ronald E. Cossman on Burning Man, an experimental community in the desert.  I have posted the brief review of the lecture below.

Burning Man is an experimental community, “which challenges its members to express themselves and rely on themselves to a degree that is not normally encountered in one’s day-to-day life” (burningman.com).  The following document briefly describes Burning Man based upon information obtained from the burningman.com website, as well as a presentation given at Mississippi State University, by Dr. Ronald E. Cossman.
            The Burning Man Project, founded by Larry Harvey, was started on a small beach in San Francisco, but was relocated to a dried-up lakebed in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert.  The result of this project is Black Rock City.  Over the years, the experimental community has evolved into a city of 48,000+ people.
            The experimental community takes place for one week, ending on Labor Day.  There are no rules, at the event, dictating how one must behave however, each participant decides what he or she will contribute to the community, and the extent to which it will be contributed.  The city is designed, constructed, and removed by a group of over 2,000 volunteers, many of which are year round.  Sometimes, volunteers remain on the site for nearly a month after the event ends to ensure no trace of the community is left behind.
            Black Rock City contains all the functions of a real city.  The site is seven square miles, and is home to a cafĂ©, ice sales concession, DMV (Department of Mutant Vehicles), a recycling center, a municipal airport, a newspaper, and a radio station.  Also vital to the success of the event, the Black Rock Rangers are a group of volunteers dedicated to maintaining public wellbeing during the week-long experiment.  “They patrol the boundaries of our city to protect us from intruding cars, they rescue the lost, maintain our city’s gate, interface with our city’s fire protection service, maintain our good relations with local law enforcement agencies, and manage the exodus of traffic at the conclusion of the event” (burningman.com).  The Department of Public Works (DPW) is, “responsible for surveying our city, installing its roads and street signs, and erecting the built environment- the buildings, trailers, trenched power lines, and communication towers that form the working infrastructure of our home in the desert” (burningman.com).  The DPW is also responsible for installing and maintaining the perimeter fence and provide several acres of shade, to provide an escape from the blistering sun.  Other public service groups, made up of volunteers, are greeters, lamplighters, members of the fire conclave, members of the recycle camp, and earth guardians.  “The infrastructure of Black Rock City is literally alive with human effort, and all of it is volunteered by those who have a passion for the Public Thing- Res Publica, as the Romans once called it” (burningman.com). 
            The ten principles guiding burning man are:  radical inclusion, gifting, decommodification, radical self-reliance, radical self-expression, communal effort, civic responsibility, leaving no trace, participation, and immediacy.  Radical inclusion means that anyone can participate in Burning Man.  The event is devoted to acts of gifting, which are unconditional.  Decommodification means there are no commercial sponsors associated with the event.  Radical self-reliance refers to encouraging, “the individual to discover, exercise and rely on his or her inner resources” (burningman.com).  Unique gifts of the individual create radical self-expression.  Communal effort is achieved through cooperation and collaboration.  “We strive to produce, promote and protect social networks, public spaces, works of art, and methods of communication that support such interaction” (burningman.com).  Participants of Burning Man value civil society.  “Community members who organize events should assume responsibility for public welfare and endeavor to communicate civic responsibilities to participants.  They must also assume responsibility for conducting events in accordance with local, state and federal laws” (burningman.com).  The community respects the environment and is committed to leaving no physical trace of the project’s existence at the end of the event.  Our community is committed to a radically participatory ethic. We believe that transformative change, whether in the individual or in society, can occur only through the medium of deeply personal participation. We achieve being through doing. Everyone is invited to work. Everyone is invited to play. We make the world real through actions that open the heart” (burningman.com).  Immediacy, or immediate experience, is the major value in the Burning Man culture.  “We seek to overcome barriers that stand between us and a recognition of our inner selves, the reality of those around us, participation in society, and contact with a natural world exceeding human powers. No idea can substitute for this experience” (burningman.com).  These ten principles are what makes Burning Man a unique and successful experience.
            Art plays a major role in one’s experience at Burning Man.  Each year Larry Harvey gives the event a theme to promote a common bond over the community, and tie everyone’s contribution together in some form or fashion.  Through self-expression, each participant is encouraged to help bring the theme to life.  “Innovative sculpture, installations, performance, theme camps, art cars and costumes all flower from the playa and spread to our communities and back again” (burningman.com). 
            A culture has formed around the Burning Man experience which, “pushes the limits of Burning Man and has led to people banding together nation-wide, and putting on their own events, in attempt to rekindle that magic feeling that only being part of this community can provide” (burningman.com).

Saturday, November 27, 2010

T A L I E S I N . S H E L T E R S

Glass House, Designed by Alan Olin 1979, with improvements by Tom Payton, 1995, and Jaqueline Norman, 1998.

This is a pretty cool alternative for student housing.  I would have definately chosen to live in the dorms if this was an option.  "A writer for the New York Times called the student-designed and built structures at the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture perhaps "the hippest dormitory in the world." The "shelters," as they are called, dot the natural landscape surrounding the campuses, and are offered to students as options for living while attending school."
Desert Perch Shelter, Designed by Victor Sidy, 1999
 To see, or read more about the information presented here, click on the Dorm Link below.
Dorm Link

Design With Christmas Lights

Outdoor Christmas decorations in Jeffreys Bay, Eastern Cape, South Africa
This is a little piece of information to get everyone into the Christmas spirit.  This website has tips and tricks on how to show off the features of your home during the holidays with Christmas lights, such as:

1. A subtle band of red and green Christmas lights defines the shape of the roof.
2. White icicle lights illuminate the eaves.
3. Narrow strings of white lights accent many of the window muntins.
4. At the center gable, green Christmas lights transform a conventional rectangular window into the illusion of a grand, classical Palladian window.
This website has links to multiple examples of Christmas lighting design solutions.  It also has pointers on how to fix broken lights and many other helpful tips and tricks for the holidays.
To see, and read more about the information presented here, click on the holiday link below.
 Holiday Link

Friday, November 26, 2010

Visiting the High Line: An Amazing New Park Opens in Manhattan

A pretty cool park is being built in Manhattan  called, "the High Line".  This park was designed on an abandoned stretch of elevated railway.

High Line Park
View of High Line park, located on an elevated rail line.

"The park itself is remarkably designed, a work led by landscape architecture firm James Corner Field Operations, with architecture by Diller Scofidio + Renfro and landscaping by Piet Oudolf (one of our 100 Most Creative People). But it's still a work in progress: So far, only a 2.8 acre stretch of the park has been completed, corresponding with the blocks between Gansevoort and 20th street. A second phase, between 20th street and 30th street, will begin construction in a few weeks, with completion slated for 2010. Together, those two sections will cost $152 million. A third, final section has yet to be developed. And the Whitney Museum is slated to open a new downtown branch below the first portion as well."
High Line Park
Observation Deck
 A  signature touch by DS+R: The sunken observation deck that peers over the street below. Most of their big buildings--such as Alice Tully Hall and Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art feature similar types of floating, jutting observation platforms--reflective of Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio's long abiding fascination with surveillance and carefully framed vistas.
High Line Park
View of Plant materials
High Line Park
View of High Line Park
  The plant materials used in the design are meant to resemble the plant materials seen growing along unused train tracks.  This is a great example of how the unpleasant features of the city can become desirable, aesthetically pleasing amenities to the communities they once burdened.

To read more about  the information presented here please refer to the high line link below.
High Line

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Almost Invisible Mirrored Treehouse Built in Sweden

mirrored treehouse sweden photo exterior
In Sweden, 40 miles south of the Artic Circle, these "invisible treehouses" are being installed to create a six unit tree hotel.  This idea is pretty cool, but there are a few issues that seem to be rediculous.  For instance, they use an incenerating toilet deep in the woods (instead of Charles's composting toilets).  Also, they claim that a film will be applied to the walls of the unit, making it able to be seen by birds.  If you would like to read about this invisible treehouse, click on the link below.
Invisible Treehouse

Evelyn Grace Academy

Drawing courtesy Zaha Hadid Architects
Site Plan
 This is a pretty cool project by Zaha Hadid Architects. This project, located in England, "presents itself as an open, transparent and welcoming addition to the community’s local urban regeneration process."  It seems to me that this project is a type of cohousing for a community's school system.  I think this is a pretty cool idea that may help to improve the level of education in this country.  "Designed for 1200 pupils, the Evelyn Grace Academy maintains the educational principle of smaller “schools-within-schools,” with Evelyn and Grace Middle Schools each housing 270 pupils, and Evelyn and Grace Upper Schools housing 330 pupils per school. Each of these four smaller schools are contained within highly functional spaces that give a distinct identity both internally and externally."
Image                                                                                      t
These spaces present generous environments with maximum levels of natural light, ventilation and understated but durable textures. The collective spaces – shared by all schools – are planned to encourage social communication within each school and eliminate problematic zones that require supervision."
Photo: Luke Hayes
"The academy is effectively split between the ground floor podium of shared facilities with the separate schools above. The schools are organized horizontally to minimize vertical circulation once the students are within their individual schools. The middle schools are spread over the 1st and 2nd floors with the uppers schools both  occupying the 3rd floor."  "Shared facilities that are suited to community out of hours use are located at ground level with some academic shared facilities such as the common halls and science labs located between the schools in the central area on the 2nd & 3rd floor to allow for the flexibility of them to be used either solely by a small school or as shared facilities by more than 1 school, when required."
To see the information presented here, or to read more about this facility, click on the school link below (There are also alot of photos from this facility on the website.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Natural Architecture

'organic highway' by mikael hansen 1995 
"the natural environment still manages to fill us with a sense
of awe and amazement. despite the amount of scientific
knowledge mankind has gathered, nature still holds great
mysteries that we may never be able to unravel.
this complexity has continually daunted man. in frustration, we
try to control nature by enforcing order. as a result,
we have distanced ourselves from the earth, even though
our survival is completely dependent on it. we are now trying
to regain our close connection to nature."

"there is an emerging art movement that is exploring mankind's desire to reconnect to the earth, through the built environment.  referred to as 'natural architecture', it aims to create a new, more harmonious, relationship between man and nature by exploring what it means to design with nature in mind."

clemson clay nest' by nils-udo, 2005
 The people participating in this movement are doing some pretty cool stuff, as far as public art and natural awareness is concerned.  This art movement is similar to the "land art" movement of the late 60's, but instead of acting as a form of protest, the natural architecture movement acts as a form of activism.

If you would like to learn more about this movement, read more about the information presented here, or would like to see more cool photos of their works, please click on the Natural Architecture link below. 

Natural Architecture

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Primal Source

primal source
Image of Primal Source
This public art piece, by Hague design+research, was commissioned by the City of Santa Monica, California, for Glow 08. "Primal Source was an all-night performance/installation brought to life through the active participation of festival-goers (estimated at approx. 200,000 over the course of the night).
primal source
Image of Primal Source

primal source
Image of Primal Source
"Located on the beach near the Pier in an area that had been specifically landscaped over the course of several days, and making use of a large-scale outdoor waterscreen/mist projection system, the mirage-like installation glowed with colours and ebullient patterns created in response to the competing and collaborative voices, music and screams of people nearby."

I thought this was a pretty cool public art piece that seemed to be very effective in bringing people together.

To see this project, and more by Haque design+research, click on the Haque link below.  If you would like to view a youtube video of this project, click on the video link below.
Haque Link
video link

Not Fooling Anybody: a chronicle of bad conversions and storefronts past

This website is pretty funny.  "It is not without the bitter taste of self-awareness, specifically about the overwhelmingly crass and commercial (and, indeed, downtrodden and dreary, bleakly suburban, and economically grim) nature of the content of this site, that we at NFA embark on our quest to document bad conversions. That said, it is perhaps best that we look at this phenomenon as a delightful yet sad part of our culture's clattering landscape: it is an amusing diversion, it is an economic gestalt, it is a crime of design, it is a confusion to the would-be consumer. Let us rejoice in bad conversions and seek to amuse ourselves with them wherever possible, taking utmost pains to observe the careful, hopeless touches of their renovation and their indelible flourishes of nonsense on our landscape. Embrace blight! We have no other hope."
Image of Thai Town Express.

Thai Town Express
Hollywood Blvd. and Western,
Los Angeles, California

Red's Hot Dogs
Nothing quite says Thai cuisine like a huge fiberglass hot dog with onions! (P.S. Dear Thai Town: please never take that hot dog down!)
Shannon Hoff

It is funny how many of these building conversions seem familiar to me.  It seems like people could be a little more creative.  If you would like to visit this website, please click on the NFA link below.
NFA Link

Freespirit Spheres

Images of Freespirit Spheres.

"Built on vision and engineering these handcrafted spheres are suspended like pendants from a web of rope. They occupy a truly unique place in the world while providing a habitat for the un-tamed spirit that exists in us all."  This escape, located in the tall trees of Vancouver Island's west coast rainforest, takes sustainable design to a whole new level.  This site mainly used to promote this place as a vacation destination, but the idea is pretty cool.  I have attached photos and information about some of the spheres below:
"Eve is made from cedar strips and was our first hand crafted sphere. Eve is 9 ft. in diameter (2800mm) and has 2 - 4' diameter windows. She has one comfy duvet covered single bed, a settee for sitting, cupboards and counter space."

View of Eve.
"Our newest sphere in the trees is named "Melody". She has a vibrant yellow fibreglass exterior with a mural that definitely catches the eye.  Her black walnut interior has a spacious open living concept. She has 5 windows, including a sky light, a small sink, cupboards with dishes, purified water and everything you need for making tea and coffee. Melody has bench seats under the large windows and two tables that fold down to make work stations. She has a murphy bed that comes out of the back wall creating a bedroom at night. Her comfy duvet covered double bed sleeps two people. She is electrically heated with a thermostat on the wall. Many accent cupboards and adjustable lighting enable you to set the mood. She has a private electric composting outhouse adjacent to the sphere. For your enjoyment Melody is wired for 120V AC and has built in speakers for those who wish to bring their own music or video devices."

View of Melody.
Please visit this Freespirit Spheres Link to see the information presented here in full length.