2nd Year Studio – An Exploration into Artist Residencies

The project of our 3rd semester here at the SoA consisted of exploring, designing, and, at least theoretically, actualizing an artist residency. For the first time, we had to consider how the building would exist in real space – how would it stand up? What would it be made of? We also had to consider our design – what was our process? How can we use external designs and environments to influence and drive our project? How does circulation direct the flow of the building? We were actually designing a building as if it might actually exist, and as with any new process, we found ourselves in the midst of a lot of excitement and confusion and wonder. Looking back upon my work, I am still amazed at how much we all accomplished in just 14 weeks. 14 weeks! And that on top of all our other classes and projects. Sometimes I am surprised I even survived it all.

For this project/semester, I found myself in a section of 13-15 students (numbers changed as students dropped) instructed by Prof. Andrew Saunders. Prof. Saunders not only was teaching a section for studio, but also was tasked with coordinating the entire 2nd year studio. He also is in charge of publications at the School of Architecture, and on top of that still has time to design his own buildings. Although sometimes we (naturally) found ourselves confused and a bit bewildered by his direction, ultimately each project in his section was extremely strong and his teachings were invaluable.

The 2nd year studio consisted roughly of three stages; An analytical phase, where we were each given a sculpture from a sculptor (chosen by the section professor) of which we were tasked with describing it’s form (and perhaps the sculptor’s intent) digitally, both through 2D drawings and 3D modeling/rendering; An exploratory phase, where, having been given a site to work with, we had to take our sculpture and explore how it might influence and push a design for an artist residency – how might it be inhabitable? Given a rough sq. footage of program, we had to incorporate a parti system into the design, such that we began to explore how circulation might come into play as well; And finally, a refinement stage, where we took the explorations from the previous phase and attempted to consolidate them into an actual, inhabitable structure, that met all the programmatic requirements and was structurally sound as well (at least roughly). This is where we really had to take into account things such as openings (doors/windows), circulatory space (public gathering/hallways), parking, and possibly even materiality. It was a long and intense process, but the final result was certainly complex and interesting.

I will spend the next bunch of posts describing each of these phases – using text to describe my design process, along with accompanying imagery of drawings, renderings, and photographs of models.

3rd Semester – New Year, New Studio, New Challenges

Now that things have wound down for the holidays, I finally find myself with the time to properly sit down and write about my 3rd semester here at RPI’s SoA (School of Architecture – you can check it out here.). Of course, by the time I’ve begun to write about it, the semester has already finished – perhaps I’ll just always be about a semester behind here. It is amazing how times flies when I am buried in the depths of the program; so much amazing, intriguing, and intense work comes out of that studio. I always enjoy walking around the studio periodically to see what everyone else is working on – it astounds me each time how much variation there is. Between sections of course there is a large difference, as each section professor has their own unique lens from which to impart their knowledge. But even within each section the scope of the projects is fantastic. It just goes to show that there are always so many ways to approach the problem/idea at hand. I suppose this is one of my favorite parts of architecture, the fact that, through the nature of design, there is so much freedom to explore and interpret. Perhaps this is just a product of the academic world, especially given the fact that we are only just beginning to delve into the world of codes. But I suspect that, even beyond school, there is still quite a lot of room for variation – I mean, just look around you at the amazing expanse of design.

Over the next month or so I’ll be working to try and catch this blog up as much as I can to where I am now. Of course the main focus will be my studio project, which this semester consisted of exploring and designing an artist residency for a local sculpture park. However, I’m also looking to include some work from our drafting class, Construction Systems, as well as our final projects from our first Structures class.

And if I seem to depart for a month or two from here throughout the year – don’t worry. It just means I’m hard at work, nose deep in some new, exciting project. 🙂

Materials And Design – The Final Project

Our final project for the Materials and Design course was, in a group of four, select a moment of one of our final projects, and reconstruct it at a larger scale, taking into account how  the larger scale would affect both design and materiality of the moment. The section also had to be movable/transformable in some form. While it needed not be an exact replica of one of the projects, its design intent had to be formed from that of the project.

The section I was in, which included friends/classmates Jesse, Erik, and Lauren as well as myself, chose a moment from Erik’s final pavilion design. We took this reference and constructed a large, long strand or chain, which could be twisted/spiraled to form various shapes. Each member of the chain was built out of three sheets of basswood that were them laminated together. The members each had a slot in the center, through which a sheet of acrylic could slide. These acrylic sheets were used to fit through multiple, parallel members, and thus hold whatever form was chosen together. The members were connected via a pin connection, to allow for free rotation.

Below are some attached images to better illustrate the design.

M+D Final Project

photo credit Erik

M+D Final Project

photo credit Erik