Top Architecture Blogs

January 6, 2010

If you are a regular follower of architecture blogs, you have probably already seen this.  But if not, and you want to add a bit of mainstream architecture/design to your daily life, Archi-Ninja has made an amazing comic review of the top 9 architecture blogs.  It is a good top list.  Check it out.

Environmental Systems: Part 2

December 30, 2009

The second project was to design and produce a complete set of construction documents for a small 1800sf house.  The house needed to be environmental, sustainable, and cheap.  It also needed to have different options for different climates.  Throughout the class we learned about a wide range of topics, from passive and active solar strategies, to thermal envelopes,  to the pros and cons of HVAC systems, to how to use and draw psychometric charts.

I wanted to produce a building that took advantage of simple passive techniques that applied to all kinds of climates without too much change to design.  The most obvious is the large overhanging roof that shades the strong summer sun and lets in the winter sun, protects from northern winter winds and directs southern summer winds, and shelters an outdoor living space.  But beyond this, I worked to incorporate sustainability into every scale of the project, from the window placement to the corner stud details.


Environmental Systems: Part 1

December 30, 2009

Environmental Systems with Ben Uyeda was a class that encouraged a do-it-yourself kind of learning. We learned the fundamentals of environmental system design in architecture.  Our first project was to film a youtube video that could be used to teach “lay-people” about a specific idea in the vast world of sustainability.  It was a group project, and I worked with Christine Nasir on a film that challenged the general conceptions of sustainability through the age-old battle of the Prius vs. the Hummer.  We wanted to do some stop motion, but because we were pressed for time, and because neither of us drive, we had to be creative.  We chose an approach that was a bit unorthodox, and very cheesy, but one that was short enough that we could pull it off without being annoying.  Plus we used some good music.  But really, who doesn’t like cheesy?


December 29, 2009

Because you go on Co-Ops at Northeastern, you are thrown into the job market much earlier than most students or recent-graduates.  And because of this, I needed a portfolio much earlier than most students or recent-graduates.  With a lot of drafts and some help from my graphic designer friends at Machado Silvetti, I now have a portfolio that is at a stage where it is presentable.  It will probably never be done, and will almost definitely change dramatically every time I sit down and add work to it, but at least now I feel that I can post it on the internet without too much embarrassment.  It only has work up to Studio 2 in its current state, so expect an updated version after I finish my studios and graduate.


Studio 4

December 29, 2009

Studio 4 with Tim Love was by far my most academically stimulating studio at Northeastern.  Studio 4 is the housing studio at Northeastern, and this semester we worked on wood frame courtyard housing in Boston while dealing with all of the code issues that plague and inspire architects every day.  But the brilliance of this studio was not entirely concentrated in the design problems we faced, but more through the academic approach of the studio.  Instead of following the traditional practice of getting a site and putting a project on it, we instead did the reverse.  We developed a courtyard housing prototype, aggregated it to form a block, and then placed it along with the rest of the projects in the studio into a mock city in South Boston.  The end result is an instant city where we could literally count the number of pillows throughout or do FAR calculations of each block.  The profoundness of this studio is pretty obvious when you put it into this kind of perspective.

I focused on designing apartments that made full use of the light, air, and space given by the courtyard, and I did that by working through the problem of the inside corner of a courtyard.  By designing smaller courtyards within each corner that mediated the space between the public courtyard and the apartment, each unit had more light and air let into each room without sacrificing privacy.  The line of public/private is blurred however within the larger public courtyard, encouraging social life.  Each unit also has access to two exterior spaces that are both private and public for space for exterior living spaces and gardens.  I also paid attention to how residents would use their apartments, and also to how they would enter their apartments from either the street or from parking on the first floor.

As the studio progressed from designing a prototype to designing a city, the emphasis was put on the façade of the building.  I worked hard to dissolve the standard conception of a street wall by breaking apart the façade in a way that reads much differently when viewed as a prototype vs. viewed as a block.

This studio also will result in a book that we are publishing.  The book will be available at some point in the near future, and will contain each project of all three studios of my class.  Each studio has about 10 kids, so the book will have around 30 different projects documenting the project’s start as a prototype to its end as a city.  Because each studio made their own “city” made of 10 different projects placed like patchwork across the site, the book will also have information about the logic that went into each site.  Also, because we were making a book at the end of the semester, this studio was also a lesson in standardized representational techniques.

Studio 3

December 29, 2009

Studio 3 took place in Rome, which is almost all I need to say about it.  The program was treated less as four distinct classes and more as one entire experience, which is the best way to treat studying abroad.  That being said, our studio was a complete engagement with Roman history and architecture, and the result was incredibly stimulating and profound.  Our project was to design new space for the school’s architecture program in a ruin of a boathouse (the Arsenal) on the Trastevere bank of the Tiber dating back 500 years.  Instead of inserting a form into the Arsenal, I instead chose to strip down the building to its raw structure.  By doing this, the building embraces the Roman tradition of the piazza, but in a way that is unlike any other piazza throughout the city.  Each other piece of program (an auditorium, café, classrooms, dorm, dock along the river, and administration) was designed as a reaction to the Arsenal, the site, and Rome itself.

Advanced Representation

December 29, 2009

Advanced Representation was a short summer studio structured around entering into a competition, taught by Chris Grimley.  I worked in a team with Tom Neal and Tim Valich throughout the entire project.  This studio was both an introduction to competitions and to more advanced architecture programs.  By entering a competition, we were able to engage a part of architecture outside of the academic world and learn the process of design through alternate means.  The MarketValue Competition investigated possible alternatives for an underdeveloped site in Charlottesville, VA.  The program called for market vale housing, civic space, and a space for a farmer’s market.  By look at each typologically then reinserting them back into the site, we were able to create a project that worked in a short amount of time.

Studio 2

December 29, 2009

Studio 2 was our first time taking a single project throughout the whole semester.  In this case, it was a design of a K-8 arts magnet school in the South End of Boston.  Taught by Conrad Ello, it began with the design of a typological classroom prototype that dealt with programmatic zoning on a small scale and an emphasis on the “thick wall.”  We then produced an analysis of an existing school, in my case Mahlum’s Benjamin Franklin Elementary, in Kirkland, Washington.  Then finally, after a site analysis, we jumped into our final project.  The focus of this project was to design a school that reacted to its surrounding site.  Our analysis was done by looking at different site characteristics, both in plan and empirically.  We worked through our analysis to make decisions within our project.  This resulted in a project that was woven into the fabric of the neighborhood and was crafted to respond to what was going on around it.

The school design itself is based around a courtyard, with the classrooms, the arts studios, and the administrative spaces all clustered into three parts of the site.  Each cluster is designed around its main space: the library for the classrooms, the auditorium for the arts studios, and the cafeteria for the general administrative spaces.  Each cluster is also defined by separate materials tied together by a transparent circulation.

Architecture at Northeastern

December 24, 2009

I suppose now is a good time to talk about Northeastern’s architecture program.  Its emphasis on real-world Boston-oriented design pushes us as students to think critically about what we do as architects.  Architecture schools have a tendency to press certain pedagogies, whether it is abstract experimentation, theoretical analysis, or mathematical exploration.  At Northeastern, the push is to produce architects who can design.  But unlike most schools, Northeastern teaches its students to be architects, not to be designers.  Instead of learning how to generate complex curves in Maya or build trusses that will withstand 2012, we instead research market values for South Boston and draw through sill details for our designs.  Coupled with the co-op program at Northeastern, we come out of school understanding how to build a building.  I don’t know if this style is better or worse than other schools, but it at least makes sense.

Studio 1

December 23, 2009

Studio 1 was taught by Chris Genter, and was our real first immersion into architectural design.  We had three different projects that went up in scale as we moved through the semester.  The first was a proposal for a café in the Christian Science Center that worked us through fully integrating a building into a site.  The second was a house analysis of Victor Horta’s house in Brussels, which allowed us to understand the spatial and material relationships of the house.  The final project was a proposal for a Map Center for the Museum of Fine Arts.  This project’s site was a very awkward 30’x100’.  So, by totally embracing this narrowness and designing a project with two 10’ buildings inserted into the site, I was able to push the relationships of scale, space, interior and exterior, circulation, and volume.  I also built a model that I am still in love with to this day, despite its simplicity.