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 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!

2023 Study Architecture Student Showcase - Part IX

Welcome back to the Study Architecture Student Showcase, and a joyful start to the New Year! In this ninth week of the Student Showcase, we’re excited to highlight outstanding projects that delve into the realm of cultural centers and museum design. Our featured projects span diverse locations and tackle unique challenges, each a testament to the creative minds shaping the future of architecture. Join us as we explore the intriguing designs of the following projects. Each project is a unique journey into the intersection of architecture, culture, and community, offering a glimpse into the transformative power of thoughtful design.

Chinatown Cultural Activity Community Center (CCACC) Learn, Create, and Spread! Space by Jessica Ivana, B.Arch‘23
California State Polytechnic University, Pomona | Advisor: Katrin Terstegen

Community centers have always served as a place for locals to engage in independent study and receive support. The proposed Chinatown Cultural Activity Community Center (CCACC) is located on an underdeveloped parking lot on the east side of Chinatown and seeks to activate and expand the cultural values, activities, and character of this part of Chinatown, which currently lacks pedestrian-friendly activities compared to Broadway Street and the rest of the neighborhood.

The CCACC serves as a hub for innovative exploration, offering a comfortable workspace for people of all ages to learn, create, and exchange knowledge and wisdom, regardless of their talents or impairments, whether they are residents or visitors. It fosters a sense of belonging to the community while breaking down the boundaries between arts, culture, and creativity, and aims to act as a medium for people to develop new hobbies or knowledge. On the exterior, the center has a gentle and slightly playful character that blends in with the surrounding buildings but stands out with its white perforated skin, offering a glimpse into the activities and knowledge celebrated within the structure through a composition of aperture sizes.

As an urban response to the through-lot site condition, the volume of the center is elevated, providing porosity and connecting the two streets. At the street level, a grid of arches penetrates through the lower levels, acting as legs or roots that tie the learning community center above and below. In the interior, spaces and structure are more expressive and flexible, providing a variety of activity spaces and spatial experiences. This project was awarded the Senior Project Award at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.

Culinary Center for Los Angeles by Leo I. Dumonteil Cabanas, B.Arch ‘23
Tulane University  | Advisor: Rubén García Rubio

This new culinary center has the purpose of revitalizing the knowledge of cooking that has been lost in newer generations. Many young adults have evolved to rely on fast food chains as a result of their fast-paced lifestyle. Providing a place where simple knowledge such as cooking can counter this trend. The building itself is an expression of two worlds of architecture. The ground floor is designed by following the parallel strips of the green canvas it is set one. This provides a one-way porosity connecting two ends of a garden. This first level is meant to represent a heavy and solid architecture style which translates into the materiality choices. Moving into the remaining floors the change of atmosphere changes immediately. This isolated box has an architecture reminiscent of Mies van der Rohe. The space is light and airy with almost no existing walls. The program is not set by walls other than by the structure itself allowing for a continuous space to be created. This structure extends into the lateral wings of the box which create two cantilevered ends. These cantilevers then create two public spaces into the outdoors providing shade for the public in LA’s harsh climate. Lastly a set of different topographical offsets are introduced into the landscape. Some may rise while others may sink. These special conditions are then introduced to different gardens that contribute to the growing of crops. These micro topographies also allow the building to express its present as some areas near the building have deeper topography offsets. This mélange of architecture styles allow the public to experience learning in a way that challenges the perspective one has on architecture and culinary.

Instagram: @rubgarrub

Allegro by Ryan Call, B.S.Arch ‘23
Texas Tech University Huckabee College of Architecture | Advisor: Erin Hunt

Inspired by the cultural and climatic conditions of Lubbock, as well as the Llano Estacado region at large. Allegro fills a niche within the musical scene, providing a place for up-and-coming artists to live and perform in the heart of the arts district downtown. Programmatically, this space provides practice rooms, community multi-use spaces, a recreational area, and part-time housing units for musicians to live and perfect their craft. The form of Allegro is a repeated figure, stacked, mirrored, and rotated, opening in the center as a point of gathering and passage for the downtown area. ​ The façade is wrapped in a kinetic screen to provide solar shading in the warmer months and opens for more sunlight in the colder months. The screen is made up of a single unit, divided into nine smaller units mimicking the sublet undulations of the land. Each block was created through computational design and digital fabrication using clay 3D printing. Allegro explores the possibilities of clay as a dynamic building unit that performs both for efficiency and visual effect while functioning as a place of community for Lubbock.​

What’s in a Monolith? by Peter Rosa, B.Arch ‘23
Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc)| Advisor: Russell Thomsen

“The simplicity of the architectural monolith does not aim at abstraction, nor does it share the minimalist aspiration to non-referential object hood. Rather, it seeks to maximize the expressive potential of common architectonic configurations by condensing their figurative allusions into one eloquent gesture.” — Rodolfo Machado, Monolithic Architecture. The thesis interest lies in exploring the idea of what Machado posits as the expressive potential of the architectural monolith. It questions how the role of architectural monolith differs across various expressions and how these can begin to reframe our understanding of the contemporary architectural monolith.

In wanting to expand our definition of what a monolith can be, I began to think of a monolith as one of many kinds, each of these lending itself to a multitude of expressions with their own behaviors. By establishing a set of monolithic behaviors and deploying these across different scales, orientations, and material expressions; the thesis argues against a rigid definition of monolithicity and presents various in an attempt to subvert the conventional notions of monolithicity while simultaneously expanding upon the lexicon of work that informed it.

This proposal for the Museum of the Twentieth Century in Berlin is comprised of shrouded monolith with figures that become subsumed and embedded within it becoming a catalog of monolithic expressions. In its context, the proposal reframes the spatial experience of the museum by deploying a range of monolithic expressions each with their own spatial consequences.

Instagram: @rntarch

Blackness in Architecture: A Library and Cultural Center in Gary, IN by Miranda Cuozzo, B.Arch ‘23
University of Notre Dame | Advisor: Sean Patrick Nohelty

Architecture is shaped by group identity, which, in turn, is shaped by architecture. This interdependent process is what allows a culture to develop its own architectural character. Unfortunately, constant oppression has denied African Americans the freedom to fully participate in this process. This gap in American architecture contributes to the continued dehumanization of African Americans and their culture, and is a gap that can be filled by developing architecture that truly expresses the beauty and depth of African American people. Through the design of a Library and Cultural Center in the heart of the often forgotten city of Gary, Indiana, this project explores what architecture that intentionally represents and embodies Black American culture looks like and is ultimately about affirming Black people’s humanity. Throughout the completion of this project, I was often forced to defend the notion that Black Americans had a culture distinct from that of other Western people, events that further proved the necessity of this work. While this may seem like a minor oversight, the inability to see a people’s culture and heritage is an inability to see their full humanness. Architecture and culture go hand in hand, and by developing architecture that speaks to the Black American experience, I hope to fill a gap in the American architectural tradition and to contribute to a broader understanding and acceptance of Black American culture that will one day render the questioning of Black humanity obsolete.

This project was awarded the Noel Blank Design Award.

Instagram: @rando_studios

Re-Encanto by Emir Taheri, B.Arch ‘23
NewSchool of Architecture and Design | Advisor: Daniela Deutsch

Encanto, once a semi-rural district, has experienced a decline in recent years. Our urban studies have identified the Imperial Avenue corridor as a prime location for redevelopment, with its rundown infrastructure and low occupancy. The presence of the South Chollas Valley hills and canyons further adds potential for commercial revitalization. Our project aims to capitalize on these opportunities by creating a central hub area focused on an Afrofuturism museum. The Afrofuturism museum will serve as a dynamic space, showcasing the intersection of black culture with science fiction, fantasy, and technology. By providing a unique platform for exploring the rich history and creativity of black communities, the museum will promote cultural appreciation and understanding. To enhance the overall experience, the surrounding area will be thoughtfully designed with public art displays, interactive installations, and green spaces. These elements will encourage exploration, interaction with the environment, and cultural exchange. Through this transformative project, Encanto will regain its vibrancy, becoming a catalyst for cultural enrichment and inspiration.

Instagram: @rhythmarch

Catholic University of America | Advisor: Jason Montgomery

This thesis demonstrates how architecture can be a catalyst for regenerative growth through the holistic design of community development projects that co-evolve with natural systems over time. The Regenerative Development & Tourism Center in Chiweta, Malawi is a phased development project that serves as a community resource, educational hub, and restorative tourism destination. The center’s multi-purpose programming provides economic, educational, and experiential benefits to its various stakeholders. Construction with zero-kilometer materials and operation through closed-loop systems produces positive environmental impacts. The campus is a prototype for development in rural communities that addresses issues on local, regional, national, and international levels. The center in Chiweta is site-sensitive in responding to the physical and climatic conditions, celebrating the local community’s agricultural lifestyle, and contributing to Malawi’s national development and tourism goals.

This project was nominated for Super Jury.

Instagram: masonreinhart_, 007jmontgomery0888

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

2023 Study Architecture Student Showcase - Part VIII

Tune in for week VIII of the student showcase. This week we feature student projects focused on the theme of safety, demonstrating thoughtful responses to diverse challenges. Check out the student work below!

Mesa Refuge by Joy Christensen and Megan Sun, BA in Architectural Design ‘23
University of Washington  | Advisor: Elizabeth Golden

The Iglesia Cristiana El Buen Pastor is located in Mesa, Arizona, a suburb of about 500,000 inhabitants east of Phoenix. Each week U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)—the federal law enforcement agency responsible for enforcing immigration laws in the United States—transports groups of asylees to the church as a temporary measure while arrangements are made for travel to a final destination. At the church, guests can take a shower, change into clean clothes, and eat a meal before the next phase of their journey. Asylum seekers typically come from a variety of countries and backgrounds and may have experienced persecution, violence, or other threats in their homeland. Many arrive to the U.S. after a long and difficult journey, often having fled their homes with only a few belongings.

The Mesa Refuge will shelter the asylees on the church campus. The program contains short term housing for individuals and families (between twenty to forty people ) as well additional shower and restroom facilities. When not in use, the building will be used as a multipurpose room for the congregation. The church has a very limited budget and there is a need to build economically as well as sustainably.

Our proposal focuses on the privacy of the asylum seekers and their connection to nature through views to planted areas around the building and filtered daylight that fills the main spaces. A strategy of layered walls and masonry screens promotes natural ventilation and provides a sense of protection without feeling fully enclosed. Colorful murals cover benches and the wall facing the main entry to the church, welcoming guests and inviting them into their new home.

Instagram: @megan.sun, @joy_architecture, @elidorata,

Urban Living Room by Zoe Qiaoyu Zheng, B.Arch ‘23
Academy of Art University  | Advisor: Sameena Sitabkhan

Naturally, we tend to keep a certain distance when interacting with other people, especially during the post-pandemic era. The Urban Living Room aims to bring neighborhood life into public space while creating blurred boundaries that create conditions of privacy. The design introduces public programs like cafes, shops, galleries, and varied open spaces which blend traditional library and private spaces with adjacent buildings. Formal moves respond to natural light, wind, and views, but also create opportunities to block visual contact with adjacent residences and provide private programmed spaces for users.

The building was divided into two parts connected by a bridge providing flexible circulation. By utilizing different material patterns to guide visitors through the space, the design enriches relationships with neighbors. Originally the site featured the natural environment, so the building is elevated for people to enjoy the natural vegetation on different levels. Visitors are welcome to celebrate their time here and the architecture creates invisible boundaries to protect their personal space as needed. This Urban Living Room is not just a library or another public space for people to hang out; the proposal also provides opportunities for people to safely interact in personally acceptable proximities.

This project was awarded the B.Arch Thesis Design Excellence Award at the Academy of Art University.

Instagram: @aauschoolofarchitecture

Where Density and Desire Meet by Rita Momika, M.Arch ‘23
Arizona State University  | Advisor: Claudio Vekstein

In Phoenix Arizona spreads in the art district of what is named Roosevelt Row, an approximate 3,000 feet long street where the multifunctional businesses take advantage of using the district for portraying their own voices and talents.

In light of the global movements calling for more inclusivity, it is crucial for spaces like Roosevelt Row to ensure that everyone feels safe and welcomed. This means taking active steps to address any discrimination or harassment that may occur within the community. Creating safe and inclusive environments require a commitment to creating microcosmic monuments of different social issues that are a safe space for conversation and alignment between people.

A program that spans 2,000 feet long, an infrastructure capable to contain multiple activities and functions. An architectural base, a steel system able to put up with changes through time as well as establish relations between the public and the private. The structures become the skeleton, the connection, and the network of systems throughout the dynamic street.

By actively promoting diversity and inclusion, Roosevelt Row alleyways begin to foster spaces with a sense of belonging for people from historically oppressed communities, such as people of color, women, indigenous people and immigrants. By valuing and respecting the diversity of voices within the community, Roosevelt Row can help to foster a culture of inclusivity and create a more equitable future for all.

New York Institute of Technology  | Advisor: Farzana Gandhi

In 2022, the U.S./Mexico border witnessed a significant influx of migrants, reaching a staggering total of 2 million encounters. Among this population, approximately 30,000 individuals seeking asylum have been granted admission this year. However, those whose asylum claims are rejected or pending face the challenging circumstances of residing in makeshift tent cities located along the border ports of Mexico. Even for those who are admitted, overcrowded centers, tents, and cities lacking plans for economic development and social integration pose additional hardships. One proposed intervention after the migrants’ arrival at the border involves the relocation of these refugee and asylum-seeking populations to declining urban areas like St. Louis, Missouri. This strategic relocation would include the implementation of a transitional housing typology that encompasses co-living spaces, shared working environments, and public amenities. Another intervention aimed at fostering cultural integration and combating xenophobia entails establishing an exchange center within St. Louis. This center would offer diverse programs designed to cater to the needs of both the incoming and existing populations residing in the city.

This project was awarded the faculty thesis award at NYIT.

Morgan State University  | Advisor: Carlos A. Reimers

How can architecture mitigate the affiliation of young adults with street gang violence in local under-served communities?

Low-income environments, limited parental involvement, peer pressure, and low self-esteem are all factors impacting under-served communities in Baltimore. The social unrest and crime can draw youth into joining gangs and violent behavior because of how dominant they are and the lack of safe spaces to redirect the attention of young people to engage in constructive activities and personal growth. Young adults can benefit from having access to proper amenities and mentorships that can impact their choices later on in their adulthood. This thesis addresses this issue, creating a youth center in a landmark location of social unrest in the city of Baltimore.

Instagram: @swagboy__kevin, @reimerscarlos

Living in Thresholds by Darren Petrucci, M.Arch ‘23
Arizona State University  | Advisor: Claudio Vekstein

The theory of feminist architecture contends that we need to rediscover the spatial relationships that have defined modern architecture. Coming from a matriarchal family in Venezuela, I wanted to explore if the ramifications of my upbringing (a matriarchial structure) were influenced by the neighborhood environment in which we lived. This project hopes to examine the concepts of public and private spheres within which we live, through the analysis of case studies, and to explore the impact of the transition between these spaces. It is these transitions, or the combination of them, that introduce architectural conditions that lead to more caring housing communities.

To begin we must understand that how we live extends past the boundaries of our house and encompasses how we move throughout the home, neighborhood, and city. The majority of housing developments undermine spontaneous social safety nets and contribute to the loss of community cohesion; it’s usually removed from the city center, thereby alienating already socio-economically vulnerable people from city resources. The single-family prototype does not address the diverse members of society — single mothers/fathers, seniors, young professionals, single women, LTBQ+, multigenerational families, etc. To create a community of care is to meet all the needs of a person (physical, emotional, health, and safety). This happens when we re-evaluate housing, based on our existence, as multi-dimensional and design our spaces to redefine the “social” aspects of housing, where the collective experience of community creates a natural threshold identity between the public and the private.

The articulation of the project applied these ideas of thresholds to an existing site in Phoenix, AZ. The restructuring and rezoning of the site allowed for the implementation of differing degrees of housing densities brought together by public urban spaces that served the community. The articulated bands became the varying housing typologies that allow for the agglomeration of different combinations of families to inhabit; while the “voids” became a place to maintain a sense of openness to the immediate and greater community. These public spaces became the extension of the house and blurred the concept of public and private.

Instagram: @paolavalentinaaa

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