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.

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Light Wells, or “I’m Underground – I Need Light!”

With a preliminary parti and a site location, now I had to deal with the actual structure. I knew that I wanted to have the residency merge from/into the surrounding landscape, but how to accomplish this? Since we were modeling in Maya at this point (and for the rest of the semester pretty heavily), I decided to quite literally take the landscape into Maya, and drag/drape it over the parti to create the building’s massing. Once again, this was a very crude and unsuccessful method (and I very quickly changed it), but at this point I was a bit lost as to how to proceed.

This draping technique, and the fact that a lot of the rooms were underground, led to another problem – light. How could those underground see without using tons of artificial light? My answer? Light wells, or “whirlpools” as they became. This was also a great opportunity to try and re-introduce some of the design elements of the Antoine Pevsner sculpture and my generative reforming of it. This using of our previous sculptural explorations was also part of the assignment, and something that I had yet to properly address.

I also decided to elevate the studio spaces, in an attempt to allow them to see more of the landscape/site, and also to prevent the public that may be milling about to peer into their private space. This also allowed me to bring the public spaces out from behind the rest of the spaces by putting them down below the studios and gathering spaces.

The second version of my preliminary siteplan (left) and a basic wireframe parti (right), this time with light wells.

The second version of my preliminary siteplan (left) and a basic wireframe parti (right), this time with light wells.

Interior rendering of the first version of the residency (massing only)

Interior rendering of the first version of the residency (massing only)

Exterior rendering of the first version of the residency (massing only)

Exterior rendering of the first version of the residency (massing only)

 

 

Beginning Phase 2 – Choosing a Site

At this point we had completed the “Sculptural Analysis” portion of our 3rd studio semester – now it was time to dive into the second portion: designing an artist residency. This section of the class consisted roughly of two phases – one before our midterm, and the other between midterm and finals. The first of these two (phase 2 of the semester), was driving mainly through our exploration of a “parti”. This included attempting to interpret what a parti consisted of and how such a system might integrate into our previous sculptural explorations of phase 1.

But before we could begin any of this, first we needed a site. This particular artist residency was set to occupy a space at the near-by Storm King Art-Center. Located in New Windsor, NY (~2 hours south of Troy, NY / RPI), Storm King is essentially a sculpture garden, but laid out over nearly 500 acres of woods and fields. Most of the sculptures are permanent to their site, with many built/designed by the artist specifically for Storm King. Currently their exhibit boasts over 100 sculptures, including pieces by noted artists Alexander Calder, Louise Nevelson, Henry Moore, Richard Serra, Andy Goldsworthy, Sol LeWitt, and Roy Lichtenstein. You can find out more at their website: http://www.stormking.org/

For our particular section, we were instructed to choose a site situated near the main museum building. This was intended partly for ease of access, but also because the museum building sits on a hill overlooking the rest of the fields, and working with such a hill would require us to take into consideration other landscape factors.

Part 2 of this post will discuss my approach to choosing a preliminary parti /organizational system for the residency.