2023 Study Architecture Student Showcase - Part XIX

Welcome to Part XIX of the Study Architecture Student Showcase! As Urbanism continues to shape the study of architecture, today’s student showcase highlights projects that impact Urban Life. 

The featured designs seek to optimize the use of the available space while creating cohesive and functional built environments that meet the needs of all city dwellers. They also confront issues that impact urban spaces by addressing the increasing carbon footprint of the DFW Metropolitan Area and predicting a future where a massive electric vehicle charging car park replaces the greenspace of NYC’s Central Park.

Shifting Super Block by Yenifer Diaz, B.Arch ‘23
The New York Institute of Technology | Advisor: Prof. Michelle Cianfaglione

This research aims to answer the reasons for vacancies and how to solve the problem, especially in a city like New York. To create a shifting superblock with a seamless

Live | Work | Play, a “city within a city,” where neighborhoods are not disconnected from the empty lots and abandoned buildings, and where services are available to anyone.  

How do we build a neighborhood through the integration of Live | Work | Play?

The aim is to create a superblock-type concept where neighborhoods are not disconnected. It began with research on zoning and its limits on building laws and regulations, to “What is a superblock?” and expanded to “What is a 15-minute city and how can it be integrated into a city like New York?”

Instagram: @michellecianfaglione, @nyitarch, @exdarchitecture

“A City Within a City”: Culturally Sensitive Architecture Adaptation in San Francisco by Zijie Zhou, M.Arch ‘23
University of Utah, School of Architecture | Advisor: Valerie Greer, AIA, LEEP AP, NOMA

My site, located at Portsmouth Square in San Francisco, is positioned between the towering skyscraper side of the city and the low-rise Chinatown side. Throughout its rich history, Portsmouth Square has functioned as a significant community plaza for local Chinese immigrants, providing opportunities for entertainment and socialization for over 100 years. However, with the rapid influx of tourism and urban development, Portsmouth Square has become a point of conflict for the local Chinese residents and tourists, deterring both parties. This dissonance, reflected in the lack of connection between culture and architecture, has effectively created a divide — a cultural gap — between San Francisco and Chinatown, which is now referred to as “a city within a city.”

The tension and disconnect that exist between the two facets of this location can only be met with a considerate and nuanced approach. With sustainability and longevity in mind, I aimed to design beyond noteworthy architecture; instead, I aim to establish a structure for something more intangible – a community gathering space that embodies the values of rich culture and a diverse community. This conscientious design was intended to protect and enhance the quality of life for the local Chinese community, preserving their cultural heritage and identity while also encouraging community cohesion with those who are visiting or don’t explicitly belong to the Chinatown community. To achieve my goal, I aspire to cultivate a new cultural identity that resonates with the locals’ sense of belonging and loyalty.

The symbolic architectural design serves as a beacon of light that resonates within the hearts of every community member, illuminating the entire community living space. Through this architectural platform, I hope to foster social connectivity and strengthen the ties between people, communities, and cultures. This culturally sensitive approach will not only establish a landmark structure for visitors from all over the world but also establish a solid foundation for a vibrant community hub for local residents.

Welcome to the Carmart by Maggie McMickle, M.Arch ‘23
University of California, Berkeley | Advisors: Rene Davids and Greig Crysler

In the blocks surrounding Douglass Park in Chicago, over 80% of households are led by single mothers. In addition to performing paid labor to financially support their families, these mothers also perform thirty hours of unpaid domestic labor for their families per week, leaving little time for rest, play, or personal development. This project proposes a monolithic housing collective that spans three city blocks, sitting on the viaduct of an unused rail line. Domestic labor is outsourced to dedicated programs that stretch into the surrounding neighborhood. Collective meals are hosted in the shared kitchen and dining facility, and an on-site cafe is open to both residents and the public. A laundry service takes dirty clothes and returns them washed and folded. Children are cared for at different ages in different facilities, with a nursery and daycare for young children, an after-school program for the nearby elementary and middle school, and a recreation center for older children. By freeing overburdened mothers from this domestic labor, they are able to rest, play, and nurture themselves and their children.

Since the inception of the automobile, the urban fabric of modern American cities has been altered. With the emergence of electric vehicles, there is the potential for a new way we can design our cities around the automobile; now, the car has the potential to leave an impact on buildings. This thesis, entitled, Welcome to the Carmart explores the idea of creating an auto-centric megastructure in Central Park in New York City – the least car-dependent city in the States, to provide a critique of the car. The narrative of the Carmart provokes what may be considered a dystopian future for urbanists, the greenscape of Central Park is bulldozed and replaced with a massive EV charging car park. Through a narrative that imagines a dystopian future, the project embodies themes of consumerism, capitalism, the American dream, and the social and urban implications of creating spaces for cars that take away from the character of cities. 

This project won the Chester Miller Award.

Instagram: @magg_zzz, @r.davids, @carmart.usa

Prospect Offices in New Orleans by Leah N. Bohatch, B.Arch ‘23
Tulane University | Advisor: Ruben Garcia-Rubio

The site is in the Business District of New Orleans in-between Uptown and Downtown, near many places of communal gathering and public interaction. Camp St. and Andrew Higgins Blvd. mark the intersection of visitors and locals, highlighting the site as a corner of importance and an area for improvement in how the community can interact and be showcased. This will be accomplished through an inversion of the typical interior plaza wrapped by a program. 

This proposal calls to wrap the plaza around the building as a programmatically independent staircase that relates the pedestrian to the surrounding views and displays the inhabitant to the city. This strategy is accomplished by creating an object building to allow circulation around the building. The programmatic strategy includes a system of concrete slabs and columns along a 20’ x 20’ grid that becomes the frame of the project and is related to the city scale. Within this larger frame, human-scale polycarbonate boxes plug into the structure and create smaller-scale unique interactions at each level of the project that relate to New Orleans vernacular architecture such as porch-style, semi-communal office spaces, and balcony-mezzanine offices and walkways. 

The plaza wraps around the building as it is folded along the grid of columns. This allows for a program to be placed at each stair ranging from work areas to outdoor stages. Also, terraces are used as extensions of the offices to allow for a seamless interaction between an interior work environment and a shaded exterior office space. The destination of the continuous exterior plaza is a community roof garden that allows for 360 views of the city and a plaza on the roof plane. The stormwater runoff from the roof garden and the terraces is drained through an attachment to the building’s columns.

Instagram: @rubgarrub

Revitalization of an Automotive Industrial Area by Joshua Díaz-Arroyo, B.Arch ‘23
Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico| Advisors: Pedro A. Rosario-Torres, Luis V. Badillo-Lozano & Manuel De Lemos-Zuazaga

This research is about breathing new life into deserted automotive factories scattered across the globe, with a particular emphasis on those that occupy sizeable plots in urban areas, impeding the growth of cities. The project strives to tap into the latent resources that these empty lots offer, leveraging the pre-existing infrastructure, structures, road access, and location to uncover their full potential.

Located in the Northwestern United States, specifically in Detroit, Michigan, is the Central Square. This area has been deemed part of the “Rust Belt” due to the numerous deserted automotive factories there. The project’s objective is to infuse life back into the area by reviving social and cultural activities, improving the economy, and increasing accessibility to surrounding communities. To achieve these goals, spatial programs and a central square are implemented, connecting the communities and integrating the programs seamlessly. 

The proposal entails the integration of a Car Museum, an office tower, and commercial areas. The existing structure, formerly intended for vehicle assembly, spans four levels in a horizontal layout. As part of the proposal, the existing building is divided to create a spacious longitudinal plaza that spans the entire site. This plaza serves as a versatile exterior space, connecting the various programs and facilitating seamless movement between them. The proposed design seeks to optimize the use of the available space while creating a cohesive and functional site that meets the needs of all stakeholders. Furthermore, it was the designer’s deliberate choice to erect a tower in order to produce a striking visual contrast to the project’s predominantly horizontal design. To achieve this, a diagrid is employed, which is reminiscent of the exoskeletons of factories, wherein the structural framework of the building is left bare and visible. The existing structure houses the automobile museum and offices, while the commercial district comprises four other new buildings.

The ambitious project seeks to delve into the vast expanse of space and express its distinctive characteristics, while simultaneously discovering the promising possibilities that abandoned automotive factories may offer. The proposal also aims to motivate and encourage others to unite with available resources and foster innovative ideas.

BEHAVIORAL EFFECTS OF PLACEMAKING ON FARM CHICKENS by Chidera Ndubueze, BSAED (Bachelor of Science in Architecture and Environmental Design) ‘23
Morgan State University | Advisor: Samia Kirchner

Placemaking is an approach used when designing and planning public spaces to promote urban vitality, health and well-being, and social interaction. This principle has been used to design and revitalize public spaces and urban plazas to become sociable and capable of achieving a multiplicity of activities. Placemaking principles should be incorporated when designing chicken habitats because they will positively affect the behavior of chickens and the production of eggs. The behavioral setting for this research will be the Plantation Park Heights Urban Farm in Baltimore, MD. The farm was established to combat food deserts and provide food on the plates of Park Heights residents. It maintains a principle of bringing Cleaner Greener Foods to less fortunate communities in Baltimore. The priority group is the chickens on the farm. The common chicken breed at Plantation Park Heights is the ISA Brown. This is a crossbreed of chicken with sex-linked coloration. They are docile and provide optimum egg production. This study will focus on the question: “Can principles of placemaking be incorporated into chicken habitats, and how does it affect the behavior of chickens?” This research will be conducted through interviews and storytelling (via the Facing Project), surveys, and questionnaires. The process for this research involves a comprehensive literature review on the study of the behavior of chickens from birth. The design project involves designing a chicken coop/ conservatory that is sufficient for the number of chickens on the farm. The coop design will provide spaces for feeding, nesting, and social activities.

This project received the Outstanding Research Poster Award at the 28th Annual Undergraduate and Graduate Research Symposium, Morgan State University.

Instagram: @samiarabkirchner

The Critical Application of Metabolic and Mobile Architecture to the Modern Urban Fabric by Peter Hall, Bachelor of Sc. in Architectural Sc. ’23
Western Kentucky University | Advisor: Shahnaz Aly

Urban analysis of architecture has taken multiple and diverse directions that in some way try to create a city that is accessible and walkable. NULU Flats takes on the approach of mobile architecture and metabolic theory to create a functioning microcosm of both ideas applied critically in a growing urban environment. The project, at around 90,000 SF, applies ideas of “megastructure” by creating a building skeleton that can evolve with the needs of the city on the linear path of time. The lower two levels of the structure are incorporated into the megastructure as a static piece of the building that contains necessities such as parking, mercantile space, and workspace. The following six floors are suspended residential modular units. With the flexibility to swap modular units and create new spaces, the project provides a critical application of metabolic and mobile thought.

This project received the Outstanding Senior Capstone Project Award.

Instagram: @petehall01

Reframe: Looking Inward, Gazing Outward by Nadia Calderón & Eliot Sauquet, B.Arch ’23
Southern California Institute of Architecture | Advisor: Peter Testa

Reframe, a proposal for the Museum of the 20th Century located in the Tiergarten District of Berlin, is centered on the superposition of volumetric, urban typologies and domestic thresholds through the construction of multipart views. By reintroducing site-specific architectural tropes related to urban housing, the project promotes an unstable, anticipatory character of architecture that is subject to constant reprogramming and transformations. The proposal focuses on the juxtaposition and overlap of two spatial logics: the arrangement of urban block typologies, and the integration of small-scale, domestic interiors. The objective of the project is to reactivate the immediate built environment of Berlin by inserting instances of domesticity into the expansiveness of a field of monuments.

The proposal for the Museum of the 20th Century expansion draws on the architectural and domestic history of Berlin by referencing the façade and configuration of L-type housing. By over-scaling and continuously aligning L-types, nested, sunken courtyards are generated between the discrete parts of the scheme. In aggregating large-scale urban typologies and domestic interiors, the project generates a series of close-knit gallery spaces that unravel across the site and reconstruct a pattern of circulation that is inveterate to Berlin. The project is focused on the creation of key sightlines and nested courtyards between volumetric components, and it further addresses the configuration of Berlin housing typologies by establishing a perimeter wall that intimately frames unfolding views and spatial processions. The scheme challenges conventional modes of perception by foregrounding the museum as a place of past and present cultural production that is continuously responding to the activities of Berlin. By encouraging the users to inhabit the space of the museum as they would inhabit housing, the experience of viewing art becomes substantially more intimate and imbued in the context of the city.

Instagram: @eliot_sauquet

I can’t BREATHE because I won’t CHANGE by Ryan Playle, M.Arch ’23
University of Texas at Arlington | Advisor: Ursula Emery McClure

“I can’t breathe because I won’t change” deals directly with one of Arlington’s most toxic areas. The interchange zone of I-30 and 360 is not only undergoing a massive highway infrastructure reconstruction but is also one of DFW’s most heavily trafficked areas, and it is surrounded by major industrial sites and power grid distribution networks. 

These factors make it one of the densest carbon production zones in Arlington and an overall unhealthy environment. Ryan, who commutes through this interchange daily, found this area both challenging and screaming for a new future. His project accepts that reducing the carbon producers in this area is presently futile and instead, he must design a new infrastructure that negates the carbon. Working with the diverse scales and conditions that highway interchanges create (above, below, and aside,) Ryan designed carbon collectors that can be attached or embedded into the current TX DOTD highway construction methods. These mushroom-capped collectors act like huge vacuums, sucking up the carbon monoxide emitted by the producers and processing the pollution internally. In conjunction with their technological duties, the S.C.U.M. (Smog Collecting Umbrella Mechanisms) towers signify the east gateway to the city of Arlington.

They create a dramatic and signature infrastructure identifying ARL, similar to the St. Louis Arch or the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. The “I can’t breathe because I won’t change” project may have been initiated from a toxic observation but in its conclusion, generates not only a healthier Arlington but also a more identifiable Arlington. 

This project was featured in a community exhibit for the City of Arlington.

Instagram: @emerymcclurearchitecture, @ryantuckerplayle

See you next week for the next installment of the Student Showcase!

2023 Study Architecture Student Showcase - Part XVII

In Part XVII of the Study Architecture Student Showcase, we take a look at student projects that focus on recycling. As sustainability continues to be an area of importance in architecture and design, the student work below encourages viewers to reexamine what recycling can look like and how reusing materials can support communities across the world. From urban co-housing built with upcycled materials to improving living conditions in an Egyptian settlement that relies on recycling as a source of income, each project uses recycling to uplift spaces.

Transcendence by Reem Tawfik, B.Arch ‘23
American University in Dubai | Advisor: Abdellatif Qamhaieh, PhD

Transcendence is a project that deals with a famous informal settlement in Cairo, Egypt. Known as Zabbaleen district (or Trash City), the residents of the area collect trash from Cairo, store it, and ultimately recycle it manually and sell some of the recycled material to generate income. While a vital service for the overall city, the living conditions inside Trash City are poor. Transcendence attempts to improve the conditions by ‘Transcending’ above the area and providing its residents with a much-needed escape. 

This project won the American University in Dubai Senior Showcase Winner – 1st award, Faculty Choice Award, and Compasses Magazine Award.

Filum by Sean Meng & Poorva Joshi, M.S. AUD ‘23
UCLA AUD | Advisors: Laure Michelon and Guvenc Ozel

The project seeks to speculate a hybrid logistic in the fashion industry by creating a seamless and immersive experience assisted by XR technology.

When the physical environment is digitally enhanced, space becomes portals to a series of virtual interfaces that evoke new types of engagements and connections.

Instagram: @s___ean, @poorva__joshi_, @laure_michelon, @guvencozel

Growing Community: A Planet Positive Solution to Housing by Grady Foster, Will Flanagan & Jacob Schmitz, M.Arch ‘23
University of Washington | Advisor: Rob Pena

Mission: Create an intergenerational co-housing community that fosters social connections through urban agriculture, and is designed for disassembly through modular construction.

This proposal explores a new urban co-housing typology that allows its residents to build relationships on the foundation of communal meals, artistic exploration, and urban agriculture education as means to combat loneliness and isolation, integrate Housing First residents, and create a shared sense of ‘urban belonging.’ It will be built using upcycled materials in a modular kit-of-parts that reduces carbon emissions before, during, and after construction and incorporates sustainable systems, helping to create more housing while staying within the Planetary Boundaries.

The design relies on a 14 square meter module that is repeated in various patterns to create units ranging from studios to three-bedroom apartments. The grid column informs the overall massing of the design and is scaled up to accommodate commercial aeroponic farming production and amenity spaces that host multiple programs.


Communal Living – Social Focus

Modular Construction – Economic Focus Housing First – Social Focus

Connection to Nature – Planetary Focus Individual Carbon Allowance – Planetary Focus

Instagram: @gfos11, @_jschmitz_, @mohler.rick

PLASTIblock by Cristian Berrio, B.Arch ‘23
New York Institute of Technology SoAD | Advisor: Farzana Gandhi

In a world of abundant plastic, it would only make sense to develop building technologies where we can recycle and reuse this abundant resource into a viable building material. PLASTIBlock does just this, allowing its users to create habitable and long-lasting structures, with unlimited building applications. Its users can create anything from a simple seat to commercial applications like a school. As the blocks are made from recycled plastic, their economic value can work to help developing and unsettled communities in need around the world.

PLASTIBlock will allow developing communities to create viable permanent and/or temporary structures to help alleviate one of the many problems many communities around the world are facing: housing. PLASTIBlock allows users to build along coexisting building technologies such as concrete and tensioning systems like rebar and cables to create strong tangible structures. PLASTIBlock has been developed with Lego-like inspirations allowing its users to assemble and disassemble the interlocking blocks, giving each individual block multiple lifetime applications. Along this, PLASTIBlock technologies can be used as both the building material and formwork material, giving each block multiple uses and reducing the output waste material that comes with construction.

See you next week for the next installment of the Student Showcase!

2023 Study Architecture Student Showcase - Part XVI

Welcome to Part XVI of the Study Architecture Student Showcase! Today, we explore the narrative of “othering” as it relates to architecture. The highlighted student work revisits norms by applying computational methodologies to the design process, positioning a tent city in an industrial zone, reimagining modernization without demanding the complete erasure of urban communities, and more. Read on for more information.

Alleviating Othering Spaces, AI Analysis, and Form in Negril, Jamaica by Caelyn Ford, Bachelor of Science in Architecture ‘23
Boston Architectural College | Advisor: Robert C. Anderson

Nothing will change until we acknowledge two truths about ourselves and the built environment; that architecture reflects, reaffirms, and legitimizes narratives of a society that ‘others’ and defines an individual’s role in society, begetting ‘othering spaces.’

That which can be physically confirmed is often prioritized over its cognitive counterpart. Design solely for the corporeal, neglecting the cognitive, is a lie of pretended humanism within the architecture profession. The thesis aims to develop a tool that expands the

capabilities of inclusive design to transform perceptual understandings of the self and ‘other’ by analyzing architecture through a neuro-phenomenological lens. This endeavor is two-fold: design for the mind and design for the other.

The thesis project investigates means of alleviating ‘spatial othering’ by quantitatively studying the building’s behavioral and emotional effect on its users to equalize the cognitive experience. Cognitive-Informed Design in architecture presents an opportunity to create paradigm shifts by applying computational methodologies to the design process. Recognizing the need for a system to connect with the end users efficiently during the design process, the potential of web-based VR, AI-generated eye tracking, brain mapping software, and biosensors was explored in this thesis to develop the design criteria.

This project was selected as the Best of Bachelor of Science degree project.

Urban Refuge: Assisting in the Development of Tent Communities Through Modular and Trauma Sensitive Design by Peter Hope, M. Arch ‘23
Academy of Art University School of Architecture | Advisor: Eric Reeder

Homelessness in the United States is a problem that disproportionately affects California. According to the World Population Review, the homeless population in California is 161.5 thousand; that is 16x more homeless people than the national average of 11.4 thousand. It is suffice to say that the issue of homelessness is not going away any time soon. Of all the cities in the United States, three of the cities with the highest homeless population exist in the Bay Area. San Jose, Oakland, and San Francisco account for 10% of the homeless population of the entire state.

The objective of this thesis is to find ways to create better spaces of refuge for the unhoused residents of Oakland, who currently call tent cities home. Tent cities are one way that the unhoused communities organize themselves. Tent cities can pop up anywhere, from highway medians to the side of the road. The selected site for this project is inhabited by a fledgling tent city that has not quite found an organizational rhythm as others in Oakland have. It is also positioned in an industrial zone which presents opportunities for city sanctioning, should the project be successful.

Instagram: @ericreeder.architect, @_peterhope

Kalunitas by Alex Jauregui, Alex Lopez, Armando Torres, Ayah Milbes, Bailey Campbell, Chris Rosenbaum, Francisco Ramos, Hannah Gonzalez, Huda Shahid, Joshua Arriaga, Josue Garay, Justin Mai, Kavi Patel, Lucio Castro, Macey Mendoza, Sarah Trevino, Sophia Cruz, Valentin Torres, and Xavier Zamora, B.Arch ‘23
University of Texas at San Antonio | Advisor: Armando Araiza

An installation that illustrates the movement of people to San Antonio throughout the past 300 years and beyond. The word “kal” derives from the indigenous language of the Coahuiltecans meaning “come together” and “unitas” being the Latin word for “unity.” Kalunitas expresses the convergence between four of the founding cultures that have made the San Antonio region one of the most diverse in the United States.

Instagram: @conetic_studio

The Shar(e)d: Community Resilience Through Shared Spaces by Yiting Chen, M.Arch ‘23
University of Southern California | Advisor: Amy Murphy

Cities’ growth and evolution can pressure existing communities by changing the urban landscape, as seen in the Shard in London, where the construction of a glass skyscraper risks displacing the economically poor and working class. Such development doesn’t necessarily bring true social progress to the neighborhoods. A large area of glass introduced in the neighborhood almost put a death sentence on the community. This trend can be observed in many communities near central business districts.

Is there another way towards modernization without demanding complete erasure?

How can the elements of the Shard be recombined into the urban landscape in a more sensitive gesture?

How can the use of glass be more about the place and the people?

This project focuses on the development of public and shared spaces in GangxiaVillage. The synergy of public spaces can be infused into this super-dense neighborhood to ensure that the benefits of progress and development are shared fairly.

The glass will bring active changes and connections while preserving the special urban fabrics and characters of the neighborhood. A network and system of resources will be introduced to serve the residents, and this network is expected to expand and evolve when future needs arise.

This project received the USC Master of Architecture Distinction in Directed Design Research.

Instagram: @sallychenyt, @amy_murphy143

See you next week for the next installment of the Student Showcase!

2023 Study Architecture Student Showcase - Part XV

Welcome to Part XV of the Study Architecture Student Showcase! Healthcare and Well-Being are the central themes of today’s highlighted student work. The projects below demonstrate how intentionality around design and architecture can support the well-being of society, playing an essential role in everyday life. Today, we dive into pieces that reinforce dwelling through spatial culture and reimagine architecture through the lens of a matriarchal community in rural Uganda. Viewers can explore project plans for a site in Puerto Rice that serves as a creative and cultural therapy center. And a classroom designed with adaptive design elements and sensory-friendly features to support neurodiverse and disabled students. Read on for more details!

Made with Matriarchs: Crafting Heritage-Oriented Futures with the Karamojong by Ethan Walker, M.Arch ‘23
Lawrence Technological University | Advisors: Scott Shall (Committee Chair), Joonsub Kim (Member), and Edward Orlowski (Member)

In the rural northeast of Uganda, the ethnic Karamojong are experiencing unprecedented pressures to change their ways of life (Knighton, 2017). As semi-nomadic pastoralists, these peoples are dependent on the health of their herds which is contingent on the health of their ancestral lands. Studies show that land health has deteriorated due to climate change, overgrazing and lack of mobility producing a vulnerability context that has attracted international attention. Interventions by foreign actors and the national government have attempted to improve public health while making recurring calls to transform Karamojong culture away from pastoralism towards sedentism and farming (Dbins, 2013). While appropriate in particular cases, the overwhelming call to cultural transformation could be at odds with the capabilities of the land, potentially undermining the pastoral ways of life. These globalizing influences extend beyond policy-making and have fundamentally altered the process of architectural production and construction in the region.

In response, this thesis proposes an iterative, heritage-based approach to design and construction, crafted to mitigate the increasingly harmful effects of globalization upon the traditionally semi-nomadic societies of northern Uganda. In this approach, alternative futures are imagined by reconsidering the role of the architect in relation to the pre-colonial keepers of the built environment; the Matriarchs. When working within this alternative arrangement, architects would work responsively with Matriarchs, lengthening the process of interaction in favor of a responsive design methodology that strengthens the Matriarchs’ power of architectural self-determination. Strategies to equip pastoralist architecture with greater autonomy are imagined, proposed and filtered through a Matriarch-led process to determine what is appropriated, effective and ultimately in the best interest of their desired way of life.

Instagram: @ewalke_ , @scott_shall

This project was selected for the ARCC King Medal and won the LTU Deans Award – Best Project.

Home Grown: Reimagining Dwelling Through Spatiaculture by Devin Derr, M.Arch ‘23
Lawrence Technological University | Advisors: Scott Shall (Chair), Dan Faoro (Member), and Sara Codarin (Member)

To dwell is to feel at home in a space that: maintains nature (both human and non-human), provides protection, freedom, and peace, and implies a general intent to remain (Heidegger, 1971). To inhabit is to view both house and land as mere assets of monetary value. Without dwelling, people can feel uprooted or disconnected from their homes, and the home itself can disrupt or compromise the ecosystem that hosts it. Unfortunately, home design in the U.S. rarely makes dwelling a priority and often glorifies investment-centric metrics to increase profits and value of the land-stances that encourage inhabitation.

Dwelling not only demands a balance between human-created and naturally occurring environments, but also the simultaneous improvement of both. To achieve dwelling many ancient cultivation practices like permaculture, horticulture, silviculture, and arboriculture are necessary. These practices have a central focus on maintaining and improving natural environments because the benefits they reap directly rely on the natural environment’s well-being. If architecture leverages the 17,000 years of ecological knowledge that these fields have generated, then true protection, freedom, support, peace, and balance may begin to take root (Rasmussen, Wayne D., et al., 2022). Using trees and other living botanicals as a source of structure and enclosure, this thesis aims to trade inhabitation and its associated ailments for an architecture that is quite literally cultivated and alive. There is currently an imbalance of the built and natural environments caused by the commodification of land and architecture, which is best addressed with dwelling reinforced through spatial culture. To investigate this proposition, an extrapolative study of Spatiaculture Dwellings will be applied to several environment and ecosystem types and then analyzed on their performance using the qualifiers that define dwelling.

Instagram: @scott_shall

Newson Conservatory of Music by Jacob Lindley, B.Arch ‘23
Mississippi State University | Advisors: Jassen Callender and Mark Vaughan

I am fascinated with the analytical, poetic, and metaphorical connections between music and architecture. This can only resonate with someone if they understand how to read music. There are so many other connections besides simple scripting, though. Making one of those connections evident to people is important to me: so that more of the world can physically connect something that is so familiar in some genre or another [music] to the way we experience “city,” certainly a city that has a rich history in the blues music. I believe that our world needs more positive influence, particularly in the physical realm. I have and continue to believe that architecture can allow us to aid in the effort to foster positive environments. Architecture should enhance our planet and meet the needs of a society that will make a lasting impression for generations. This is my legacy. In humility, we walk and observe that around us to understand the psyche – that true reflection can be obtained through the simplest of measures.

Architecture should remind you who you are. Architecture is dependent upon the individual and the landscape as its sources of life. It should be a mechanism for empowering, and supportive in its greatest capacity of manifesting life – not only life physically, but life that is generated in the psychological realm too. The rituals of daily life inform the architecture of its role in that support, and, in return, the architecture celebrates the best in life, the individual.

This project was awarded the first place CDFL Capstone Travel Award

Instagram: @jakewlindley, @jassencallender

San・Arte: Art as a Healing Tool by Glorivette Correa, B.Arch ‘23
Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico | Advisors: J. Omar García Beauchamp & Pedro A. Rosario-Torres

The global mental health system is deteriorating, so much so that a large part of the population suffering from a mental disorder does not receive the necessary treatment or any type of help, due to lack of information, insecurity, fear of discrimination or lack of services. While the population served is limited to a general traditional treatment, which in many cases is not the help they need. For this reason, the objectives of this project are to expand the traditional medicine market, by developing new spaces that focus on providing other treatment alternatives (such as artistic-creative therapies), and explore the architectural capabilities that can be achieved together with art and nature, to meet the appropriate conditions in a space to provide these therapies.

This project focuses on the island of Puerto Rico, specifically in the town of Ponce. San・Arte’s proposal aims to develop a center focused on arts, culture and healing. A Cultural and Artistic Creative Therapy Center is then created to positively serve the community and the people. A place that helps raise awareness and educate people about mental health. The center offers four different therapies: art therapy, dance-movement therapy, music therapy and drama therapy. The center also has spaces for artists, theater (indoor and outdoor), and an intensive creative retreat which serves as a safe space away from everyday life and where professionals or those who attend (not necessarily artists) can once again feel inspired, motivated and creative. The center also has different green areas such as terraces and an aromatherapy garden, thus providing different semi-public and semi-private spaces. The number of people who need psychological assistance continues to grow. The arts are an excellent communication tool that also helps us to connect with other people and that is what this proposal seeks.

Instagram: @glorivette_correa

Designing Outside the Lines for Neurodiverse Children by Monica Higbee, M.Arch ‘23
University of Idaho | Advisor: Hala Barakatu

The number of children with developmental disabilities or that are neurodiverse that live within the United States is a rising number. Children aged 3 through 17 are stripped of equitable opportunities within early learning environments and are often filtered through the education system with little to no accommodations for learning or independence in the built environment.

My aim for this project is to systematically identify adaptive design elements and sensory-friendly features that can improve the average classroom and promote independence for individuals with disabilities or who are neurodiverse in the built environment. In doing this, I also aim to find and develop a learning environment that changes the negative attitudes towards disabilities and teaches others how to better adapt the built environment to everyone regardless of ability or disability.

Instagram: @monicahigbee, @halahb2

Architectural Neural AgilityVisions of Architecture through SensationPerceptionand Self by Skyler Howell, M. Arch ‘23
University of Idaho | Advisor: Hala Barakat

How do we know that our fundamental beliefs of this world are our own? The problem is that the lack of “freedom of will” influences our neurological synaptic pathways; these pathways are strengthened or eliminated passively based of our individual experiences. Frascari was hinting at this notion when he stated, “Just as we think architecture with our bodies, we think our bodies through architecture.” Our vision of reality exists through our nervous systems ability to sense and perceive our environment. Paying attention to perceptions makes way for our nervous system to produce conscious or unconscious thoughts; thoughts can provoke emotions, and exists not only within the present, but memories of the past, and visions of the future. 

This project explores the way our nervous system builds reality through sensations like sight, touch, hearing, and smell while filtering stored object-oriented information known as “schema.” According to Edelman, “Our neural networks are a deeply embodied phenomenon that leads to architectural genesis.”


In order to break free from traditional architectural design-thinking, this project proposes a new vision of architecture by actively stimulating neuroplasticity. We need to evoke our nervous systems’ ability to adapt through deliberate actions allowing architects to break free from our existing paths. Translating the architectural design-thinking process by creating new models of an action-oriented “architectural neural-agility” within architectural-genesis.

Instagram:  @ponyboysky, @halahb2

Communal Healing by Tanner Mote, B.Arch ‘23
Ball State University | Advisors: Robert Koester and Sarah Keogh

Younger generations want to live in cities and yet most neighborhoods are afflicted by limited housing choices, disconnection from food sources and public transportation, and often are also dangerous environments for pedestrians. These problems have made existing neighborhoods undesirable. So, how can neighborhoods be systemically redeveloped to address current concerns so that they don’t become exacerbated in the future?

This project proposes the strategic implementation of infill housing and urban food production in the redevelopment of existing neighborhoods. The McKinley neighborhood in Muncie, Indiana was chosen as the location to test this thesis. Initial designs create additional housing that offers different living opportunities, from single-family dwellings to accessory dwelling units. Each design enables
residents to grow their own food via raised beds or vertical towers in an incorporated greenhouse. The ability to be self-sufficient and the visibility of food production will educate and inspire the community and promote continued progression toward sustainable living. Later phases could provide the neighborhood with varying scales of community spaces such as shared gardens, food markets, and education centers to attract and support community members. These latter phases will also have to address existing patterns of public transportation and correlated pedestrian paths for better connectivity.

See you next week for the next installment of the Student Showcase!

2023 Study Architecture Student Showcase - Part XIV

Welcome to Part XIV of the Study Architecture Student Showcase! Today, we take a look at projects that use architecture as an avenue to convey philosophy and storytelling. Inspiration for these pieces ranges from renowned filmmakers and unfinished architectural projects to the study of fluids and memory as a sense of home.

We hope you enjoy this collection of student work and come back next week for a new installment.

A Machine for Living: Re-Provoking the Slow House in Contemporaneity by Russell Harman, B.Arch ‘23
Syracuse University| Advisors: Iman Fayyad, Kyle Miller, and Edgar Rodriguez

A Machine for Living is a thesis that aims to re-provoke Diller + Scofidio’s “Slow House within Contemporaneity.” 

The project began in 1989, but construction stopped shortly after breaking ground due to the client’s own financial limitations. The project took on a new life through its representation when it later debuted for a lecture at Columbia in 1991, which ultimately led to its success and acclimation. 

The site still remains undeveloped, and for the argument of this thesis, the palimpsest of the original construction still exists on the site, making it readily available for a new provocation of what the home could be. 

Similar to the ways that OMA’s exhibition of “La Casa Palestra” offered new readings of the Barcelona Pavilion, this thesis aims to be a contemporary counterpart to the original Slow House.

The plan of the Slow House follows two curves and moves the occupant from the automobile to the view as seen in the picture window juxtaposed to the television screen. It is simply “a means to an end.” 

Deforming the original plan changes the relationship between the occupant and the home. 

A number of possible homes and narratives emerge through iterating the parameters of the home, making the design of Diller + Scofidio one of many that could be derived.

The ultimate one (the provocation of this thesis) becomes enveloped in itself so that the occupants are confronted with being trapped in the cycle of their inhabitance, longing for an escape. It becomes “a means with no end,” or “a means to an end that never ends.” 

The home becomes a composite of its history. And the home itself offers the potential for multiplicity in experiences or a non-singular narrative. 

The two homes thus engage in conversation with one another. This provocation of the Slow House in 2023 is in many ways both a commentary and critique of that from 1991. Their engagement with one another becomes amplified in understanding contemporary domesticity. Through their comparison, the two designs re-invigorate the potential for what the home could be on this vacant site, both in the past and in the present. 

This thesis project won the Syracuse University School of Architecture 2023 James A. Britton Memorial Awards Citation for Excellence in Thesis Design.

Instagram: @rjharman_, @i.fayyad,, @kylejamesmiller, @edgararl

Atlas of Memory: The Representation of the Invisible in Architectural Drawings through Generative Coding by Julia A. Lopez, M. Arch ‘23
Arizona State University | Advisor: Elena Rocchi

Architecture serves as a medium through which our worldview and memories find expression, capable of evoking emotions, silence, and discovery. Within architectural spaces, memory acts as a guiding reference, enriching our understanding of spatial awareness. Inspired by Giuliana Bruno’s “Atlas of Emotion,” Julia Lopez embarked on a transformative journey for her capstone project, seeking to discover her own personal narrative and construct an atlas of memories through the exploration of composition and connections. This endeavor aimed to transcend the limitations of language and discover a visual language of emotions and images that could bridge the gap between people and their invisible memories and dreams, ultimately breaking down barriers.

The research question focused on understanding how to represent the invisible realm and manifest hidden memories and dreams using storytelling, sketches, AutoCAD drawings, and generative coding.

The project began with a comprehensive study of Andrei Tarkovsky, a renowned filmmaker fascinated by the representation of the unseen and the intangible, imparting a distinct presence that shaped the poetic and spiritual essence of memories. Through an analysis of Tarkovsky’s work, the student observed his skill in using light and shadow to evoke stillness and hint at dimensions beyond the visible world of memories. She also discovered his ability to bring attention to imperceptible elements, such as the movement of objects, effectively conveying the distortions of dreams. Building upon her architectural perspective, the project unfolded in two phases, with drawing serving as the core methodology.

In Phase 1, the student explored how to incorporate architecture and the invisibility of memories through storytelling, aiming to forge a new language within the field. Phase 2 delved into advancing architectural representation through generative coding. Leveraging the p5.js script library and TouchDesigner, she created interactive visuals based on narratives, expanding spatial representation through data points. This innovative approach made the invisible visible, enhancing the representation of memories.

Throughout the process, the capstone project took a personal turn as the student documented her grandmother’s life transition and the various states of consciousness she experienced. Considering this as an authentic experiment, she observed her grandmother’s moments of hallucination and integrated her own drawings into the coding program. This generated data points representing her grandmother’s memories, including those recorded during her unconscious moments. By incorporating these sketches, the student aimed to transform them into tangible forms, capturing invisible memories and bringing them to life through drawings and a 5-minute movie.

This project won the TDS Design Excellence Award.

Novel Natures Within Itself  by Cherie Wan and Changzhe Xu, M. Arch ‘23
University of Pennsylvania | Advisor: Simon Kim

There is an architecture that travels within Los Angeles. The building has two states: it collects and it curates. The homunculus’ emergence in the landscape of Los Angeles’ urban fabric began its role as a collector. As it traverses across disparate environments, it collects human waste materials that make up its own body and functioning system. The body is an incubator for a new world. As it accumulates material, new hybrid environments are created until it no longer has the capacity for it. When it reaches this state of death, it deposits new hybrid environments where novel natures are ultimately curated. This cycle repeats itself for as long as civilization persists. Through the lens of homunculi, we are reminded that we must find new, critical ways to reflect on the architecture and monuments we have inherited and to imagine those we have yet to build.

This project was featured in the Fall 2022 Pressing Matters Publication.

Instagram: @cherie.arch, @changzhexu

Fluid Motives: Experimental Connections by Sterling Jones, M.Arch ‘23
University of Idaho | Advisor: Hala Baraka

The study of fluids in motion reveals the open-ended process of becoming, ranging in size from astronomical to atomic. The understanding and depiction of fluids has intrigued many artists and scientists, but its pivotal beginnings belong to Leonardo da Vinci, who documented the foundations of many now-accepted theories and principles centuries before their societal realization. Da Vinci’s methods of thinking, experimenting, and drawing embody a dynamic process of work integral to architecture and visual communication, and it may be his study of fluids that aided in his inventions and was responsible for his underlying genius. Fluid’s natural lack of a boundary creates connections between surfaces, disciplines, and thinking, as well as a framework that relies on other components and interfaces for it to be understood. The study of fluids’ influence on architecture is pinnacle and unrealized as architecture deals often with conceiving a whole made up of many constituent parts. 

Architecture is the convergent reality of divergent design explorations and relies on innovation and the radical repurposing of technology, taking the idea, concept, tool, or method from one intended purpose and using it to address another. “The essential nature of matter lies not in objects but in connections,” and fluid not only generates through transformation and reaction, but also destroys through breakdown and decay. Applying a system of understanding to fluids underlines conceptual frameworks for problem-solving and solution-adapting in both design and operation. A number of fluid experiments and graphic mediums are explored to better understand, visualize, and realize fluid studies’ architectural applications.

This project won the King Medal’s Award.

Instagram: @Sterlingstratfordjones, @Halahb

Composing Persona by Francesca Picard, M.Arch ‘23
University of Southern California | Advisor: Ryan Tyler Martinez

In this thesis, architecture is explored through the lens of persona. What if buildings are just as much of characters in the built environment as the people who occupy them?

This study will explore two main determinants of a building’s persona; form and materiality. The form is seen as the body of a building; its frame, posture, and overall presence. Just as we define characters by their physique, buildings are characterized by their form. Materiality offers another layer of characterization to buildings, through properties of patterns, colors, and textures. Analogous to a character’s wardrobe, materiality defines persona in architecture through ensemble. Together, form and materiality are the elements that propose the tone and character of buildings, not only to people but to their surrounding environment. What happens when these characters interact? How do their personalities communicate with one another?

Intertextuality refers to the idea that every text is in dialogue with other texts, which provides a dynamic, shifting context of meaning. This study aims to investigate the intertextuality of architecture, with a focus on persona. With collage as a way of working and a nod to the exploration of intertextuality, compositions of both form and materiality will be created. These resulting personas will be asked to interact with each other, just as the buildings architects design are asked to speak to their surrounding contexts. Through this exploration, a dialogue on persona in architecture will develop.

This thesis project won the USC Master of Architecture Disciplinary Advancement in Directed Design Research Award – In recognition of the most outstanding graduate final degree project illustrating a critical position that advances the discourse of the architectural discipline.

Instagram: @francescapicard, @ryantylermartinez

Magic of the Real by Nickolas Witt, B.Arch ‘23
University of Arizona | Advisors: Christopher Domin (studio coordinator), Laura Hollengreen, and Jesus Robles


This research cluster seeks to enhance our understanding of light scientifically, technically, and culturally so that we conceive of it as more than that which reveals the “masterly, correct and magnificent play of masses.” It is also something that has physiological, psychological, and affective impacts on us while operating within a dynamic environmental economy of atmospheric and energy conditions. At the same time, the light that accompanies heat can be searing, increasing water evaporation, desertification, urban heat island effects, and other deleterious environmental effects.  The ethical and humanistic dilemmas this causes and the inequitable distribution of impacts across countries and populations are pressing issues to be addressed by designers and policymakers.


In architectural design, “atmosphere” refers to the overall sensory and emotional experience created by a building or space. It encompasses a range of factors such as lighting, materiality, color, texture, scale, and sound, which all work together to create a particular mood or ambiance.

Atmosphere is a critical consideration in architectural design, as it can significantly influence how people experience and interact with a space. For example, a space with warm lighting, soft textures, and natural materials may create an inviting atmosphere, while a space with bright lighting, hard surfaces, and artificial materials may feel more sterile and clinical. Architects often employ atmospheric design strategies to create specific emotional responses in people who use or visit a space. This can include using materials and colors that evoke a certain feeling or controlling the amount and quality of light to create a particular mood. Overall, atmosphere is an important element of architectural design, as it can greatly impact how people perceive and interact with a space. By carefully considering the atmospheric qualities of a building or space, architects can create environments that are both functional and emotionally engaging.  As we design for the present, and the future, we must consider the atmospheres of space and architecture’s lasting impact.

This project received the University of Arizona: School of Architecture Capstone Award and the Rick Joy Award: The Generous Mind.

House(s) of Tethered Fragments, a Consideration of Embodied Images for Memories and Daydreams by Ashley Skidmore, M.Arch. ‘23
The University of Texas at Austin | Advisors: Professor Elizabeth Danze and Professor Kevin Alter

This thesis is a phenomenological and poetic exploration of the relationship between memory and place as it relates to a sense of home. My interpretation of this relationship assumes that memory is held by both the human inhabitant and architecture itself. The former is more straightforward and has been well-trodden by phenomenological writers such as Juhani Pallasmaa and Peter Zumthor, and captured in the paintings of Andrew Wyeth. 

This project is derived not only from an interest in exploring the different impetuses for memory but is also a study of the archetypal images of space carried in the collective unconscious, and how those images drive humans to embody and inhabit a place. These archetypal notions – primordial, fundamental, and deep-seeded – imbue spaces with preconceived, self-evident meaning. By incorporating these interpretations into the design of a house, I am emphasizing the role that home has as a character in the story of a life, and a generator of memory. 

From Jung’s “Man and His Symbols and Bachelard’s Poetics of Space,” I have derived nine archetypal spaces or elements embedded in the home: thresholds, doors, passageways, stairs, cellars/attics, hearths, water basins, nests, and niches. These spaces are consequently frameworks through which to consider how people inhabit their homes through the body – musing on what moments, artifacts, and spaces they attach themselves to. This approach is formed through a deep reading and sympathy for the imagined resident. By deriving spatial images from archetypal notions in the stage-set of a home, it will reveal how impulses for inhabitation are simultaneously individual and more collective. Through this lens, my question is: How can a home be designed to augment these interactions, and cultivate memory, daydreams, and meaning? 

My project is an approach to designing a house by creating a series of vignettes that explore and encourage the embodiment of the identified archetypal spaces. These vignettes are tethered together, or ordered, by the application of specific site constraints. The intention is to suggest that the desires of each room, and the relationships therein, precede any contrived diagram or ordering principle.

St. Vitus Reimagined by Izzy Brehm, M.Arch. ‘23
University of Nebraska–Lincoln | Advisor: Zeb Lund

This project reimagines a small, architectural detail as an occupied landscape for small creatures. It is an exploration of process and an attempt to reimagine how we design space. Depicted in this drawing is a species of small creatures, who have evolved to occupy a man-made column and manipulate it to fit their needs. Taking advantage of the column’s verticality, they have evolved to climb rather precarious surfaces, carve space into stone, anchor into flat facades, employ vertical farming, and cohabitate with bugs and insects. The form of the drawing was inspired by a gothic column at St. Vitus’s Cathedral.

Bigness by Fangshuo Zhao, M.Arch. ‘23
University of Southern California | Advisor: Ryan Tyler Martinez

The one ending of Modernism is Heroism. This should be a dead end with no further believers.

Only if the prosperity and miracle of growth are shut by the miserable reality. Based on the background that social democracy/democratic socialism is losing the battle to Populism and Neoliberalism.

And then, the plague, the unrest, the witch hunt, the populism, the Strongman, the totalism, the authoritarianism, the anarchism, ……

This is the history, but also the actuality.

Heroism as a manifesto and a paradigm evolving from modernism, is being consumed and evolved into a new mutation/variation: Post-Heroism. 

My thesis starting point is not the Heroism Architecture in the past, but the relationship between the old and new heroism, and how this changing relationship could lead to a new form. It is a form that accommodates the mix of force and the cluster of programs.

The two points that define post-heroism are “bigness” and “public Thermae model”. I think “bigness” is becoming more important, especially in this virtual and AI period. Inside the bigness, there will be a magnet to make people get closer, and will be possible to contain more programs, activities, and problems physically. More civic, living, leisure, and culture programs will serve as a modern Thermae, a modern public bath. And Post-Heroism will be the formalism index or paradigm of it.

This project received the USC Master of Architecture Excellence in Directed Design Research Award – In recognition of the most overall outstanding graduate final degree project 

Instagram:  @adamzfs, @ryantylermartinez

Monster Generator by Rose Vito, M.Arch. ‘23
Lawrence Technological University | Advisor: Masataka Yoshikawa

This project started off with a few questions to ponder – do you dream about waves? And do you know what meanings embed your nightmares?

This project began with the cabinet of curiosities. Because of the qualitative nature of this interest, rather than put together a cabinet, I collected objects that had the specific geometries that I could use to tell a story, and the “cabinet” almost immediately took the form of a sculptural representation of human emotions impacted by dreams, which then morphed into what I am calling the Monster Generator.

The background research that went into this work came from the fields of psychology, literature, mythology, and seismology. Literary characters such as Dracula, Frankenstein, and Jekyll and Hyde were developed based on the author’s nightmares. 

As you will see soon, The central images generated were inspired both by these literary works as well as some of my own nightmares. How do they make you feel?

The components of the monster generator are the good which represents the adrenaline of the dreamer which powers the generator. The goo powers the machine and turns the propellers that process the ingredients.

The ingredients include structures that represent proteins, vitamins and minerals, cages for animals, and nets that have captured bugs. I thought it was fun to show the bugs escaping and to pose the question – what happens when the bugs escape?

As the person dreams their adrenaline (goo) displaces the parts of the machine. The seismograph-like structure measures the level of adrenaline and translates the memories, experiences, hopes, and desires into the dream catcher.

Dream catchers catch the bad dreams as they are translated through the fins. The machine struggles to keep up with the constant influx of memories and is in a constant state of regeneration as the dream catchers are used and broken down. As the machine regenerates it evolves and the antiquated seismograph system begins to be replaced with the more modern accelerometer system. This evolution is causing inconsistencies in generator functionality. The system malfunctions and the monsters constructed in the Central Images are more than only alive in dreams.

The Central Images are released from the dream catcher. These elements create the emotional center of the dream or, what is called in psychology, the Central Image – is the “best-remembered” and “most powerful” part of the dream. If we are frightened by our memory of the qualities of the Central Image we label it a nightmare. The Central Images are meant to spark your imagination. The scariest monsters are the ones in our own minds.

Instagram:  @ltu_coad

See you next week for the next installment of the Student Showcase!

2023 Study Architecture Student Showcase - Part XIII

Welcome to the latest installment of the Study Architecture Student Showcase! In Part XIII, we look at student work that explores identity as a central theme in their designs. From using mapping and tracing to respond to the disconnection within diverse identities in urban cities to using local architectural structures to create a sense of belonging, these projects intentionally address connecting communities and cultures.

Constructing New Narratives to Reveal Diverse Identities in Richmond, BC by Rita Wang, MArch ‘23
Dalhousie University, School of Architecture | Advisors: Aaron Gensler and Erin Wright

With the capitalist expansion of urban cities today, different physical and social forces exist, collaborate, and challenge each other on the land we call home. In Richmond, British Columbia, Canada, where multi-ideologies and diverse ethnicities live, work, play, and grow together, different layers of physical and social landscape encapsulate the disjuncture of people and land, shifting identity through time. Using mapping and tracing as lenses to reveal the city’s diverse layers and living experiences, this thesis aims to uncover the landscape, urban form, individual identity, and collective identity layers embedded in the city’s formality and provide architectural interventions to respond to the disconnection between them. The design proposal implements landscape and architecture as a mediator to reconnect the dispersed landscape and identity in Richmond and construct new narratives to respond to the current identity and spirit of the people and the land.

Multiple forces exist and collaborate in modern cities. These forces can make cities decentralized and scattered, causing social-political disconnection problems such as rural-urban separation and a shift in people’s identities. The land’s topography and morphology control cities in a structural, formation, top-down, and powerful way. In comparison, social forces like identity and collective form the city in a bottom-up experiential method. Richmond is a city where multiple forces are visible and reciprocal. Diverse forces complicate the city when the connections between each layer deviate through time. Using mapping and layering, this research finds the connections between layers of Richmond. It prepares for the unfolding of architectural interventions and activities by revealing, spreading, and responding to the formality and informality of the city. By analyzing the historical formation and the current physical and social separation of the city’s fabric, this thesis develops a method to activate the city. It constructs a new narrative that imposes the essence of the old, brings back the nature of the land, and acknowledges the diverse and inclusive collectives. By applying interventional structures, the design cultivates an urban landscape and architecture to enhance the collective memory, creating placeness in urban and rural areas. It also acts as a test field to extend the definition of community.

This project was awarded the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Medal.

Acquainted Horizon by Brianda Valerio, B.Arch ‘23
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute School of Architecture | Advisors: Ryosuke Imaeda, Faculty Advisor and Rhett Russo, Final Project Assessment Committee member.

“Why do we only understand horizons as a limit?” In landscape, horizons are treated as a datum that separates the sky and ground. Architecturally, likewise, horizons tend to be a flat surface, whether a slab or wall, that separates a mass into rooms. This project explores alternative horizons as a generator of new spatial qualities.

The project is encompassed by three ideological horizons. One of them is “Phenomenological Horizon”, which Husserl describes as an experience that one can only anticipate when changing perspectives; therefore, it is not real. “Horizon of Self” by Robert Corrington is that which is created unintendedly; hence, mirroring one’s identity.
The last one, developed after studying Gregory Crewdson’s work, is “Acquainted Horizon”. It intentionally forms unclear relationships between participants, as if they are sharing a bench with a stranger. The first horizon questions whether the objects we perceive are real or not, while the second one doubts our existence. The last one grasps the real by implementing irresolvable relationships. In other words, do objects exist? Do we exist? We can only know we all exist by finding strange moments. The program ‘spa’ offers such moments to recognize ourselves.

“I sit by the water, starting to feel that I came to the wrong place. But somehow it feels fine to stay here.”
“The water seems calm and clear, reflections everywhere. This pool is uncertainly deep.”
“People see me from the water, I know they do. The water here is lukewarm”
“I walk between the buildings. They are so close that I can feel their temperatures.”
“I see outside through the slits, just sometimes. Maybe, guiding me to somewhere important.”
“I am hidden in the mist. No one can see me now. I see myself clearly.”
“Diving into the water. I see the sky next to me. The landscape is upside down.”

The project is not to offer mere representations of the theories, but to explore the events that occur between them, allowing us to remain calm, alone, and unknown. In the setting, the feeling of being ‘acquainted’ quietly enfolds us and slowly lets us fade into space.

This project won the Harriet R. Peck Prize Winner, RPI SoA, (the best solution in a Thesis Project in Architecture Design).

Instagram: @briandagissell, @ryoimaeda

A Musical Venue Composing a Symphony of Arts in Architecture by Lucciana Dib, M. Arch ‘23
Holy Spirit University of Kaslik | Advisor: Dr. Victor Takchi

The conception of music is based on cross-cultural beliefs providing an opportunity for people from all social and cultural backgrounds to express themselves through expressive art.

The site‘s characteristics, located in Ras Beirut, are based on five main focal points: the American University of Beirut (educational node), the Riviera Hotel (an iconic and historic/touristic node), Corniche Beirut (Beirut’s thriving linear public space – communal/ social node), and Bliss and Makhoul streets, reflecting the community’s motion and creative spirit while conveying musical significance through its vibrant nightlife.

Thus, the site encounters a dynamic and vibrant context incorporating significant historical landmarks, cultural and educational establishments, as well as socially active commercial spaces reflecting the city’s culture, its identity, and its motion.

Hence, the chosen site represents a musical and cultural node lying between two poles of attraction; a significant educational pole and a golden, historical, and touristic gem.

The general concept is based on reflecting the community’s cultural identity and its creative spirit through a project that conveys musical potential, aiming at accentuating the relationship between the city, the community, and the Mediterranean Sea.

The concept is based on the creation of a musical continuity from Beirut’s cultural and musical street, through a pedestrian axis directed towards Corniche Beirut; the creation of an urban corridor.
The incorporation of an urban corridor causes a significant “plot split” into two entities; one of which is oriented toward the American University of Beirut, the first pole of attraction, whereas the other is oriented towards the Riviera Hotel, the second pole of attraction. Moreover, the installation of an elevated platform at the ground floor level in connection with Corniche Beirut creates an open public plaza with musical potential, enhancing cultural and communal engagement.

The theater’s sloped platform is designed and intended to actively engage urban dwellers, elevating them out of the city on an unprecedented civic platform (connection cityscape – community – sea), whereas the opposing rooftop serves as a mere therapeutic sightseeing area oriented towards the city on one extremity and to the Riviera Hotel and the Mediterranean Sea on its opposing extremity.

Instagram:  @luccianadib, @usekschoolofarchitecture

Unveiling Lost Identities by Qiyang Xu, B.Arch ‘23
Academy of Art University | Advisors: Philip Ra, AIA, Ethen Wood, and Mini Chu

During China’s rapid urbanization, millions of rural villagers migrated into cities while leaving their children behind in the villages. The separation from parents causes many left-behind children to display characteristics that include loneliness, misconduct, and no confidence.

In Zhaoxing village, with the development of tourism, local inhabitants have returned to work in their hometowns. Although the number of left-behind children has declined in recent years, the village is faced with the lack and indifference of traditional cultural education. The sense of identity and belonging of the ethnic group has gradually declined, and the inheritance of unique ethnic culture is also fractured.

The problem of left-behind children is a policy issue, but the underlying reason is the impact of modern civilization on traditional culture, which leads to the local identities being rejected. The design aims to provide children with a warm place, help them regain their lost identities, and give them a sense of belonging to the culture through a new expression of the local architectural structure.

This project won the B.Arch Design Excellence Award.

Instagram: @aauschoolofarchitecture

Infilling the Void Blurring Defined Perceptions to Create Spaces for Undocumented Residents in Transition by Kenta Oye, B. Arch ‘23
Academy of Art University | Advisors: Philip Ra, AIA and Mini Chu

Urban planning in San Francisco has confined ethnic neighborhoods into inhuman urban spaces. Being fourth-generation Japanese-Americans, my ancestors used to inhabit and thrive in the urban environment. But, over the course of several generations, the Japanese community has been displaced and pushed out into the rural areas along the West Coast, mostly farming as a main source of income. San Francisco was the first city the Japanese community migrated to, and at that time, there was a small portion of neighborhoods that allowed this community to find their place in a new country. From the late 1800s to the mid-1900s, Chinatown, South Park, and South of Market were the pockets of the city fabric that allowed the Japanese community to call home. But, after the devastating 1906 Earthquake, Chinatown and South Park have managed to maintain their identity as a thriving neighborhood leaving the South of Market site to become Terrain Vague.

Encompassed between 5th, Market, 7th, and Mission streets is where the first Japan town took root in 1900. This 22-acre site consists of two SOMA blocks that were occupied by Irish, Japanese, and Scandinavian immigrant workers and their families. Most of the Japanese-owned buildings populated the alleys which became the vehicle for navigating through the areas of this neighborhood. It became very clear this community was confined within the fabric of the site hidden from the public realm of Market Street. Today, the use of the alleys in this area has been converted to back-of-house accommodations continuing to conceal the identity of what this neighborhood represented and how it contributed to San Francisco. The design agenda aims to re-purpose the intimate streetscapes to reveal the lost layers of the site by activating the fabric of the alleys.

The project site occupies the footprint of an old community center that spans between Market St and Stevenson St. The design opportunity points to a new urban corridor to bridge Market St. and the existing Mint Plaza, activating the fabric of Stevenson St. The building will be a cultural center that borrows characteristics of a museum and immigration center. The programmatic strategy will pair a series of ceramic, wood, and sewing galleries with adjacent workshops intended to blur cultural boundaries by providing spaces to congregate, exchange ideas, and share experiences through the process of making. The gallery component is inspired by the book, The Art of Gaman, which documents a collection of artifacts produced by those forced into the Japanese Internment Camps. This book not only has a deep connection to my and many other Japanese families today, but it also represents the resiliency of a minority community that endured the unbearable with patience and dignity. The act of making was the catharsis that allowed this community to cope with their harsh situation.

This project won the B.Arch Thesis Design Excellence Award.

Identity of the Forgotten: An Urban Park Revitalization That Creates Spaces to Heal, Connect, and Transition to a More Integrated Community by Rocio Duarte, M. Arch ‘23
Catholic University of America | Advisor: Jason Montgomery

Social exclusion and social issues are unresolved at the international level, which motivates studies and alternative solutions to eliminate the accumulated deficit, especially from the most vulnerable populations. This thesis aims to investigate how to address the spatial relationships that exclude and affect the identity of the informal settlements of La Chacarita from the formal city of Asuncion. Through urban revitalization that eliminates social boundaries, this project strives to promote growth, urban connectivity, better community interaction, and opportunities for social integration. The recovery of public space as a common good for the entire population is part of an inter-institutional, interdisciplinary, and participatory community work plan.

This project won the Urban Practice Concentration Award and the Thesis Director’s Award.

Instagram:  @007jmontgomery0888

See you next week for the next installment of the Student Showcase!

Tulane Architecture Students Give Local Bookstore New Life

(via News from Tulane)

Tulane Architecture Students Give Local Bookstore New Life

When Vera Warren Williams enters her freshly renovated Community Book Center at 2523 Bayou Road in New Orleans, she can scarcely believe it is the same space that she has struggled to maintain since opening the Seventh Ward location in 2003.

With its expanded children’s area, performance spaces, a gallery for artwork, contemporary shelving and African-inspired furnishings, she envisions the center as a hub for school and day care center field trips.

“Our focus has always been on children and young people but the new makeover will allow us to reach even more young people and address literacy at an even younger age,” Williams said.

Williams is grateful to the Albert Jr. and Tina Small City Center, the community design center that is part of the Tulane University School of Architecture. As part of their final design-build project, 14 students did the bulk of the work, from client and community interviews, to design, fabrication and installation.

The process began last year when City Center, which provides high-quality design assistance for nonprofit groups that are traditionally underserved by the design profession, put out its annual request for proposals. Williams’ proposal was one of over 20 project proposals submitted.

“There was a lot of enthusiasm and excitement about this project,” said Emilie Taylor, design build manager and professor of practice. “Our goal was to create a space that reflects the center’s identity as an African American-centered educational home, while becoming more accessible for new families and visitors coming to this rapidly changing neighborhood.”

Williams said she feels fortunate to have been chosen as one of City Center’s projects.

“Until now it had been an uphill battle trying to make the space appealing and comfortable while staying on top of changes in the book industry. But today I feel we have a new focus, a redirection. For us, this makeover is a blessing.”

Community Book Center will hold a reopening celebration on Wednesday (April 27), from 4 to 6 p.m.

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(via News from Tulane)