Structures #1

In the midst of our Studio and Construction Systems work, our other classes continued ahead at full steam. In Structures 1, after having learned all about beams, columns, etc. and how to calculate their forces, we were tasked to construct a pedestrian bridge to scale. This bridge was to be loaded using a machine in the shop, to test its capacity. The structure also had to include a covering, but had to be open at the very center where the load would be placed.

I teamed up with classmates Jesse, Lauren, Erik, and Miguel for this project. We began with a simple arched design, with a flat path placed below rather than above the arch. Originally we had misunderstood the assignment and designed the bridge such that the load would be placed on the arch. Our hope was that the pedestrian walkway below would act as a tension member to hold the ends of the arch in place (as it had not material to brace against as it might in a building). We constructed the bridge out of laminated sheets of MDF, and this was ultimately our downfall.

First iteration of pedestrian bridge model for Structures 1. Constructed from laminated sheets of MDF.

First iteration of pedestrian bridge for Structures 1. Constructed from laminated sheets of MDF.

When tested, the bridge failed much earlier than we had hoped or anticipated – very quickly the laminated sheets sheared apart, as the glue was not able to hold them together under the stress of the load.

First iteration of pedestrian bridge model for Structures 1, being loaded for testing.

First iteration of pedestrian bridge for Structures 1, being loaded for testing.

Back to the drawing board for the second and final design, knowing this time that if we were to laminate the structure, we would need to provide some sort of cross-member to keep the material from shearing apart.

Construction Systems #3 – Facade Systems

Another update regarding our Construction Systems class

Our next drafting project asked us to create a facade system, and illustrate how it connected to a 3 story super structure at both a corner and in section. We also had to include at least two perforations – one door, and one window. This forced us to deal with a corner condition, as well as how the facade met the ground (at the basement) and the roof. I chose a hug stone-slab system, with a pattern that allowed one or two panels to be removed to create a door or window. The pattern was also alternated each row, and ended (fairly) cleanly at the corner. Each panel was 5′ high and either 1′ or 2′ wide, allowing for a door of 3′ to simply remove two panels, and also allowing for two rows to complete a floor. I was attempting to minimize the number of unique pieces to theoretically keep costs down and to allow the system to be manufactured off site with relative ease. This system was then hung onto a steel superstructure.

Construction Systems - Facade System.  scale 1" = 1', hand-drafted (graphite).

Construction Systems – Facade System.
scale 1″ = 1′, hand-drafted (graphite).

A Stab at Perforations

One thing that had yet to be addressed in my Artist Residency design was apertures. Windows, doors, any form of opening. I had thought only of the skin, and thus a distinct boundary between interior and exterior. But there had to be ways for people to cross that boundary. I needed an entrance, I needed windows.

My first attempt at windows tried to mimic the triangulation already present on the surface. I created similarly triangular apertures that snaked across multiple surfaces, to try and tie the areas together. I also made the decision for the internal tunnels to be inside the building, meaning I had to create some sort of entrance way where these tunnels exited the structure. Why I chose to enclose this space entirely, at this point I cannot remember. In retrospect, it perhaps would have been more interesting to keep them open.

With these new perforations, I created a couple new exterior renders to give myself a sense of the project.

Preliminary triangulation of exterior skin. Includes window apertures. Front view.

Preliminary triangulation of exterior skin. Includes window apertures. Front view.

Preliminary triangulation of exterior skin. Includes window apertures. Top view.

Preliminary triangulation of exterior skin. Includes window apertures. Top view.

I also began to play around with renderings of the new entrance area.

Preliminary rendering of entrance area, daytime.

Preliminary rendering of entrance area, daytime.

Preliminary rendering of entrance area, nighttime.

Preliminary rendering of entrance area, nighttime.

Moving Forward: Triangulation

Well, it’s been quite a while. About two months ago I said I was back for the summer, but then new commitments started up (namely work around the house as well as an internship at TIA Architects in Amherst, MA) and I just haven’t gotten around to the blog. Perhaps I should just give into the fact that I’m not going to be able to update this consistently, and that’s just how it will be.

At any rate, I would like to try and finish up my 3rd semester’s work so that I can actually move onto the 4th semester before I start my 5th in September. Holy moly, time flies! Let’s see if I can’t get back into the swing of things.

After our midterm with our artist residencies, we all returned to our desks to begin puzzling out the interior of our forms. I had created and organized the exterior shell around a basic space plan, but now I needed to actually see how I might  fit things into the interior. How would I address vertical circulation? Windows and other apertures? What about entrances? These are things that I really hadn’t thought about, and now I needed to.

My first step was to figure out how to meld the existing form for more shape and solidity. Up to this point, the project had been constantly fighting the “mayonnaise plague”, i.e. becoming so goopy as to no longer be recognizable. I needed to really grab the building and lift it out of the slop once and for all. The most drastic change I performed on the structure was a triangulation of the entire surface. I left the surrounding landscape smooth, and allowed this smoothness to bleed onto the surface of the structure at various points, namely the roof (which I imagined as a green roof, a grass-covered extension of the hill behind it. I was trying to capture the idea of “viewing platforms” that the owners of Storm King had mentioned during our tour) and the interior tunnels through the building.

I then created a sectional model to illustrate this change in exterior, as well as to give a peek into how the interior might unfold. Since I wanted the structure to smoothly rise from the landscape, I kept the entire “skin” of the model one material.

Sectional model of Storm King Residency, after triangulation. MDF skeleton with Bristol Board skin.

Sectional model of Storm King Residency, after triangulation. MDF skeleton with Bristol Board skin.

I also began to think about how I might lay out the interior, particularly the upper level with the living spaces for the artists. Following a similar triangulation pattern, I came up with this basic layout seen below. Though this ended up being adjusted fairly drastically as I created windows and vertical circulation, it was a decent place to start.

A preliminary plan for the 3rd floor, where artists in residence would live.

A preliminary plan for the 3rd floor, where artists in residence would live.

I’m Back (again)!

Hello!

I apologize for my very prolonged absence (it’s been over 3 months since my last post? Holy bajeezum) – Life in the architecture student world is a stressful and busy one. Though each semester presents its own set of new and exciting challenges, this one was particularly ambitious. Not only was our studio project on a completely new scale (designing a housing development with over 80 units) and provided my first experience with cooperative deign, I also found myself in the concert choir, and took on the challenge of Musical Director for my a cappella group (i.e. I had to run every rehearsal and teach all the music). Time flies when you’re having fun, so I must have been enjoying myself because this semester flew by ridiculously fast – but coupled with that speed was a huge amount of new and different work to tackle, so this blog fell a bit by the way-side.

At any rate, here I am back at the blog! Now that summer is here, I should easily be able to update at least once a week, if not more. Stay tuned!

–August

Construction Systems #2: Framing Systems

Through the midst of the whole exciting by crazy process of designing the artist residency, it was nice to take a break and do something a bit more concrete. Our second Construction Systems project had us creating a two-story “shed,” using either wood framing or some form of accretive (masonry) technique – I was assigned to the wood frame section. This “shed” consisted of two floors, and had to be 10′ bu 30′ by 20′, with a slanted roof section. The entire project was to be hand-drafted, to scale at 1″ = 1′.

Construction Systems - Wood Framing.  scale 1" = 1', hand-drafted

Construction Systems – Wood Framing.
scale 1″ = 1′, hand-drafted

A Step in the Right Direction – Incorporating Pevsner

After struggling through the past few weeks trying to create something resembling a building, I brought my project to my section critic to ask for some guidance. His first response: “Where’s the Pevsner?” And that’s where it hit me – After spending weeks analyzing and exploring our given sculptures, I had moved on to creating the building and parti from scratch, with no consideration to our previous project. Where was the Pevsner indeed?

With a new direction, I returned to the drawing board so-to-speak, and recreated the massing from scratch using my generative version of the Pevsner sculpture “Developable Column.” I used my initial parti to guide the placement of four “columns”, which I them melded and merged and mushed together in Maya (ahh, alliteration), using the shape of the generative model to create the forms and spaces, and also the voids or “light wells.” The interior spaces of the model became tunnels through the center of the massing, allowing for circulation through the building. This gave me the idea of using these interior spaces as circulation paths for the public visitors, allowing them to enter, move around, and then exit the building without ever moving into the spaces of the artists. Thus, I added one more large depression at the rear of the building, with the intent of creating a “whirlpool” to pull visitors down into the building from the main museum building and Storm King facilities above.

Two contour drawings of the 2nd iteration of my residency - one in plan showing various circulation paths, the other in elevation (from the front).

Two contour drawings of the 2nd iteration of my residency – one in plan showing various circulation paths, the other in elevation (from the front).

A preliminary section of an uncreased (no hard edges) version of the residency, to begin illustrating the interior tunnels.

A preliminary section of an uncreased (no hard edges) version of the residency, to begin illustrating the interior tunnels.

The next step of the project was to build a model for our midterm review. I used the same process as the previous Pevsner sculptural exploration – a stacked model made of 1/16th taskboard. This created a massing model of the building that nicely illustrated my intention to have it flow directly from the site and surrounding landscape.

Residency v2 - Massing Model (front)

Residency v2 – Massing Model (front) (photo credit Andrew and Christian)

Residency v2 - Massing Model (rear)

Residency v2 – Massing Model (rear) (photo credit Andrew and Christian)

I also created a few preliminary renders to help illustrate the form – one from the exterior, and one inside the tunnels.

Residency v2 - Exterior Render

Residency v2 – Exterior Render

Residency v2 - Interior Render

Residency v2 – Interior Render