2023 Study Architecture Student Showcase - Part XXXIII

Welcome to the final edition of the 2023 Study Architecture Student Showcase! In Part XXXIII, we highlight student work that centers on public spaces. The showcased designs include public parks, meeting spaces, community centers, commercial retail spaces, parking structures, pools, and more.

Re-encontrarse (Re-united) by Sophie Esther Zurhaar Ortiz, B.Arch ‘23
Universidad Anáhuac Querétaro | Advisors: Jorge Javier & Francisco Paille

This project seeks to generate an urban design proposal for the recovery of public space in Felipe Carrillo Puerto. Aiming to propose meeting spaces where all kinds of activities can be carried out, recover the railroad tracks to stop being a physical barrier, and defragment the urban fabric, offering cohesive, healthy, and functional meeting spaces that together can regenerate the social fabric.

Instagram: @sophiezurhaar, @arqwave

PROSPECT NEW ORLEANS by Olivia Georgakopoulos, B.Arch ‘23
Tulane University | Advisor: Ruben Garcia-Rubio

This project proposes to open the building to the city, creating a place that adds to its rich urban fabric. The site is a parking lot at the corner between the Contemporary Arts Center and the WWII Museum. While there are many voids in the surrounding context, like this site, they are not habitable. This project provides a much-needed public space for the many visitors to the surrounding museums. Taking inspiration from the L-shaped building typology in New Orleans, the building opens to the city, creating a public plaza. 

The building functions as an open-public platform connecting Camp Street and Andrew Higgins Blvd. The glass-enclosed first floor is fluid and can be completely opened, allowing for space not to be defined by interior or exterior. Rather, programs can spill out and interact between the interior and the plaza. The ground floor then becomes animated by human activity. The public programs, gallery, cafe, lobby, and lounge are housed on the first floor, and spaces to support the art center are above. 

Transparency of the building is achieved through the aluminum louvered facade, which acts as a theatrical scrim. This veiled facade reveals the animation on the inside of the building. This transparency is also experienced from the inside looking out: the interior programs interact with filtered and framed views of the city. 

A chain of internal double-height spaces forms a visual cascade through the building, providing internal transparency and animation with continuous views from the bottom floor to the top floor and the sky. The overall design provides continuity between the interior, the plaza, the street level, and the city.

Instagram: @rubgarrub

Los Angeles Media Library by Charlotte J. Love, B.Arch ‘23
Tulane University | Advisor: Ruben Garcia-Rubio

The Los Angeles Media Library began by building upon the urban design. The building began with the broken urban block typology found throughout the site, this promoted a continued focus on mobility within the project. The urban block shape was altered to accommodate one large building wrapped in louvers and two smaller pavilions hosting different program focuses on a plaza. This iteration of the broken urban block creates an inviting place for a public plaza. This plaza being at the literal intersection of the business and arts district makes it a perfect spot to hold a media center and library. This is relevant for both the site and the Greater Los Angeles.

The plaza has a number of public transportation stops and is located across the street from two museums making the plaza equally important to the design. The open space has a café, reading area, pavilion, and an outdoor theater. The buildings and walkways align with the surrounding roads and buildings leading to a central sunken space at the center of the plaza. Held within the building are two zones with thickened walls holding private programs such as classrooms, dark rooms, offices, etc. This allows the rest of the building to be much more open with a number of double heights as well as spaces with an indoor-outdoor feeling. This allows the building to be fluid and connected to the plaza, blurring the line between public and private spaces.

Instagram: @rubgarrub

HALLOWED GROUND by Ramona Reinhart, M.Arch ‘23
University of North Carolina at Charlotte | Advisor: Chris Jarrett

In “Taoka Reiun and Environmental Thoughts in the Early 1900s,” Ronald Loftus addresses Reiun’s cultural critique of Western modernization and the devastating forms of pollution that followed during Japan’s Meijin state beginning in 1880. As an early environmentalist and anti-modernist, Reiun argues that these natural disasters are ultimately a result of humanity’s disconnection from the natural and spiritual world. 

Located in Shibuya, Hallowed Ground proposes “The Under Line,” a linear futuristic public park, lab farm and market, integrated urban meditation spaces, and a museum for environmental disasters as a response to Tokyo’s culture of hyper-consumerism and capital development that “buried” many of Japan’s spiritual traditions and natural ecologies. The constant strive for economic growth resulted in large areas of impervious surfaces in the city. Surfaces that are now being hollowed out.

This project won the 2023 Best Architectural Diploma Project. As well as 2023 Excellence in Architectural Representation.

Instagram: @_ramonareinhartg

Little Megastructure by Yiman Yiman, M.Arch ‘23
UCLA Architecture and Urban Design | Advisor: Greg Lynn

“Little Megastructure” configures an inclusive community of aggregated spatial prototypes that celebrates social connection and belonging while supporting individuality. The prototypical forms can be combined and composed in a variety of ways to create a wide range of spaces. Clusters of parks, plazas, courtyards, and atriums in between modules throughout the megastructure foster a sense of community and belonging. With a clear hierarchy of spaces that are designed for different purposes and activities, having all the components of a city creates a sense of urbanism.

Park! Park! by Motomi Matsubara ‘23
UCLA Architecture and Urban Design | Advisor: Greg Lynn

“Park! Park!” offers a set of housing towers, their shapes, and scales informed by the interplay between the behavior of residents inside and automobile traffic outside. One of the towers is taller and leaner; another more lateral and rectangular. Here, fillets perform not only as an intimate icon, each interacting softly with adjacent housing towers, but also as mediators of the different scales of motions between two different physical bodies–people and cars.

Instagram: @m2c_works

Undefined Parking by Katie Yuan, M.Arch ‘23
University of Southern California | Advisor: Yaohua Wang

The lines drawn on maps to define the borders of countries and territories may appear solid and definitive at a glance. However, when magnified and viewed at a larger scale, these lines are composed of segments, curves, and dashes that intersect, connect, and overlap. Lines are one-dimensional, but when given 3-dimensional qualities, they become less concrete and defined. In other words, when lines are given different widths and heights, they are no longer elements that separate or confine objects, but rather they embody multiple conditions that can become spaces, tectonics, connections, and circulations.  

Formed through a series of intersecting, shifting, and offsetting lines, Undefined Parking appears as an urban boundary that separates the UCLA campus and residential area at an urban scale. In this condition, the boundary becomes a partition wall. At an architectural scale, the parking structure becomes the destination for both entering and exiting the site. Yet simultaneously, the structure’s various programs (offices, classrooms, green space, etc.) blur the distinction between the university campus and the urban site. In this condition, the boundary becomes a destination. At a model scale, the volumes, ramps, walls, and planes are interlocked and joined together through the distinct tectonic elements of each individual piece. In this condition, the boundary becomes a connection. 

Perhaps, lines or boundaries exist in multiple conditions and cannot be defined…

This project was awarded the USC Master of Architecture Distinction in Directed Design Research.

Instagram: @katie0712yl, @yaohua_wwww

High-Rise Building by Jermaine Jones, Dominique Lang, Javon Hayward & Derrick Ayozie, B.Arch ‘23
Prairie View A&M University | Advisor: Huiyi Xu

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s population estimates from 2021, there were 69,094 new residents added to the Greater Houston area. Some developers have purchased land in the Houston City Centre area, on the corner of I-10 Hwy and Beltway 8 in the City Centre, and plan to build an iconic high-rise building. This project is a mixed-use office building. The location of the project is in the Memorial City district of Houston, Texas. City Centre is a 50-acre development with 2.1 million square feet of gross floor space, including 400,000 square feet of retail, restaurants, and entertainment, a 149,000 square foot fitness facility, 425,000 square feet of office space, a variety of rental, and non-rental residential developments: a Microsoft office, Memorial Hermann Hospital, Memorial City Mall, Houston of City College, and diversified restaurants such as Taste of Texas, Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen, and other retailers are all around it. 

This project will bring more people to this area to contribute to the local business and land value. The potential tenants of the high-end office building with commercial spaces and a parking garage will be the headquarters offices, banks, medical offices, high education offices, etc.

DIGNITY by Macinnis Kraus, M.Arch ‘23
The University of Texas at Austin | Advisor: Nichole Wiedemann

Working with a local church in West Campus and inspired by the student interest in “serving” over “services,” the design is for a re-combination of worship, living, and service. Two transitional housing towers provide residences for formerly itinerate populations and create bookends to the public landscape. The individuals may work here –apprenticing in the artisan maker space or running the restaurant– providing some financial stability for the immediate and the future. In addition, public showers, laundry, and bathroom facilities support the broader community. Embracing the pragmatic and poetic potential of water, light, and body (human-scale moments), the project seeks to provide dignity for all user groups.

This project was nominated for Design Excellence at the UT School of Architecture.

Instagram: @nicholewiedemann

Intertwining blocks in Los Angeles by Joey A. Tomshe, B.Arch ‘23
Tulane University | Advisor: Ruben Garcia-Rubio

Intertwining blocks is proposed to act as an agricultural information and research center for the previously designed master plan, and, in the future, there would be more of these spread out around LA which are connected. It will feature many new innovations in the agriculture field with the goal of informing the public about the advanced research being performed in LA today.

The initial concept for this project was to intertwine four blocks, creating an indoor street that acts as a social condensing space, relating to the distinct street types created in the master plan, with the social condensing space containing lighter elements than the heavier blocks. The project features six types of farms, a mediateque, and research stations for botanists. The form of the social condenser space comes from trees in plan view, then those same circles are introduced in sections to influence the roof. To combat the heat from glass roofs, the proposal will be installed with an automated computer system that processes and manages a database to optimize comfort and energy efficiency. Along the face of the roof structure is a series of operable louvers that can open and close, which allows for natural ventilation as well as sun deflection. Similarly, on the roof the northern faces of the arches can pivot open, allowing for full circulation. Furthermore, the roof allows for rain collection with built-in gutters and features solar panels on the north two blocks. Due to the repetition of louvers on the roof, a facade of varying size stone panels is introduced to disrupt this rhythm and add variation. Some panels were removed for windows and others, on the south facade, were turned into farming panels that interact with the farm in front.

Instagram: @rubgarrub

2023 Study Architecture Student Showcase - Part XXXII

In Part XXXII of the 2023 Study Architecture Student Showcase, each project highlights water in various capacities. Viewers can browse designs ranging from the reimagining of a floating Girl Scouts campsite to a holistic hydrotherapy spa. The featured student theses and designs also address threats to water by proposing systems for water collection and distribution and creating new infrastructure for wastewater plants.

Glacier Jane by  Lauren Beemer, Tess Brown, Sandra (Lindsey) Chaplik, Ryan Fitzsimmons, Kayla Flyte, Dean Hemminghaus, Alex Hernandez, Samantha Labrosky, Alexander Laudone, Patrick Moorhouse, Tyler Muir, Michelle Petrik, Tyler Quick & Jade Rolon, B.Arch ‘23
Marywood University | Advisors: Jodi La Coe & Maria MacDonald

Glacier Jane envisions a zero-energy revitalization of Mariners’ Camp at Girl Scouts’ Camp Archbald, where urban activist Jane Jacobs trained her powers of observation on the riparian ecology surrounding Ely Lake. In 1938, Mariners’ Camp was constructed for a teenage troop on the north shore of a 45-acre glacial lake and boasted the first floating cabin ever built for the Girl Scouts of the USA. Today, Mariners’ Camp includes three pontoon platforms, two of which have floating cabins, a separate troop house with attached latrines, a standalone outhouse, a water station, platform tents, and a campfire circle.

Floating on the pristine waters of Ely Lake as they slowly flow into nearby Meshoppen Creek before joining the north branch of the Susquehanna River en route to the Chesapeake Bay, Glacier Jane will serve as a living laboratory for water research. Its gardens – planted with native species on the roofs, hanging from the railings, floating in the water, and terracing the landscape – will integrate with the dense lily pads and vegetation ringing the sunny side of the lake and with the surrounding shade of the evergreen forest to filter chronic acid rainfalls and nitrate-ladened, stormwater run-off. In addition to improving the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay, Glacier Jane will also extend the Girl Scouts’ focus on combining observation, self-reliance, and harmonious living with hands-on, STEM educational activities.

This project won the Second Prize, Retrofit Housing Division of the 2023 Solar Decathlon Design Challenge.

Instagram: @glacier_jane, @jodilacoe, @tessrose13, @alaudone, @maria_iarch, @marywood_architecture

Aquatecture as Mitigator of Water Scarcity by Yolyanne A. García-Meléndez, B.Arch ‘23
Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico | Advisor: Pedro A. Rosario-Torres

Global warming is a problem that occurs over long periods of time. It affects us little by little, but we increasingly notice the change it produces in our daily lives. With global warming, a number of problems arise that affect human lives, one of these is drought. Due to the high temperatures on the planet, the availability of water reduces while its demand increases. According to scientists, “the predictions point to a considerable increase in droughts: for every degree that the temperature increases, we will see a 4 percent reduction in rainfall, so we will suffer reductions of between 5 and 20 percent.” This affects humans, animals and the agriculture of a place. If drought extends too long, what we know as famine can occur. Drought depends on the climate and it can be caused by two different variants that affect the weather, thus causing a lack of rain. The first one is natural, either by changes in atmospheric patterns or variations in solar activity. The second is caused anthropogenically, with the main reason being global warming due to bad human practices against the environment.

The project’s location in Copiapo, Chile, is a town located in the Atacama region and desert, and one of the driest places in South America. Chile is big on crop exportation and importation for its agriculture is very important. It is also known for its history of dry seasons and a big drought that lasted for about 10 years. The proposal seeks to collect and distribute water to the nearby crops. The idea was to create a water pump experience, using the water from underground canals that the visitors could see and learn from, while also enjoying the process of collecting water and distributing it to the crops. Spaces for restaurants, a museum and stations with important information aim to create awareness of water management and usage. The project also serves as an information center and tourist spot, with the goal of maximizing water for crops and food for the city.

Instagram: @y_anne_

Education Point by Francesco Manninno, B.Arch ‘23
New York Institute of Technology | Advisor: Evan Shieh

Duluth, MN, is a mid-size American city that historically relied upon declining mono-industries (like ore + timber) and mono-functional transportation modes to fuel its economic growth. Education Point is a Marine Research + Development Satellite Campus proposal that provides a blueprint to transition the city’s future towards education and tourism as more sustainable industries. Located on Duluth’s shoreline at the termination point of Interstate I-35, the project spans over and transforms an underutilized highway to reconnect the city to its shoreline while simultaneously providing a local educational hub for neighboring university institutions and the greater public.

Instagram: @studio.fs2, @ev07

Industrial Interface: A Transparent Relationship Between Wastewater Treatment and The Human by Leah Bohatch & Camille Kreisel, B.Arch ‘23
Tulane University School of Architecture | Advisors: Cordulla Roser Gray & Ammar Eloueini

Wastewater treatment is currently an isolated system despite its importance in serving civilians, creating a linear relationship that wastes a limited resource while harming the health of its source: the body. Such isolation has further harmed the environment due to civilians’ lack of knowledge and overuse. Additionally, such physical and social separation has made citizens more unlikely to adapt to wastewater reuse methods because of misconceptions about safety standards.  

Miami’s current wastewater plant, located on the flood-threatened Virginia Key, requires an assessment and renewal of systems that should be raised, work on a network, separate different water types for efficient cleansing, reuse treated water for facility use, and invite the public into the process. A micro WWTP in Miami is proposed to run a cycle of water treatment and reclamation that supports the heat-stricken city by reprogramming a cooling aquatic center to act as an example for future plants. This redefinition of infrastructure proposes a rejuvenated future in which civilians can experience the necessity and amenity of wastewater infrastructure. 

This new interface is represented in a ribboning red path of circulation that fluctuates between snaking around mechanical systems or inhabiting the mechanical space as a volume that enables the user to experience the treatment cycle. The user moves in a multisensory path of observation and inhabitation, allowing them to reflect on their own impact on the municipal water cycle, as well as experience a new relationship with treated water in which waste is no longer the end, but the beginning, of a treated community spring through a sauna, splash pool, and bathhouse. The stripped plaza allows for exterior cleansing of city runoff as a gradient strategy composed of vegetation, gravel, and enhancement ponds, merging the mechanical and landscape.

This project won the AIA Louisiana 2023 Celebrate Architecture Scholarship and the Tulane University School of Architecture Outstanding Thesis Award 2023

Instagram: @leahb_arch, @ckreisel_arch, @tulanearch

SULIS: Hydrotherapy Centre and Spa by Alanis Baez Colon, BFA Architecture ‘23
Savannah College of Art and Design | Advisor: Daniel Brown

Minerva Sulis: Celtic goddess of healing and sacred waters. 

In the bustling modern world, where stress and tension have become an everyday reality, the need for holistic healing has become increasingly vital. Water has been known for its remarkable mental and physical healing properties in many cultures. Sulis Hydrotherapy Centre and Spa seeks to create a haven of tranquility, where the power of water is harnessed to promote a deeper state of well-being. The building and site design marry to create a journey for its users, where water is highlighted as a transformative element in healing the human body, mind, and spirit. 

Nestled in the French Broad River Park, North Carolina, Sulis harmoniously integrates with its surroundings. Situated next to a flowing river, the building takes inspiration from the natural allure of water to create a sensory experience that fosters healing. From end to finish, the site design aims to create an immersive journey for users of all ages allowing them to engage and connect with water in diverse and captivating ways. Finally, at the end of the journey, visitors reach their final destination- Sulis Hydrotherapy Centre and Spa. 

Sulis encapsulates the belief that water holds remarkable healing properties by offering a range of pools and spas, each carefully designed to cater to the different needs of the users. A large central public pool at the ground level serves as the heart of the facility, aiming to promote a community-centric space where users of all ages can immerse themselves in the soothing waters and interact with each other. On this level, we can also find the Hydrotherapy pool area where specialized treatments are available for those seeking specific physical therapies. The programmatic elements on the upper levels housed within the cantilevered wings are dedicated to creating a more intimate connection between the users and the water. Here, we can find spaces such as private baths, where users can immerse themselves in mineral waters and heal their minds through meditative therapies. These diverse offerings allow visitors to tailor their experience and find solace in a personalized healing journey. 

The façade design was inspired by the fluidity and transparency of water, and its interaction with sunlight creates a captivating façade that constantly transforms throughout the day. Instead of completely concealing the robust steel exoskeleton at the core of the design, the façade celebrates it by still allowing the steel to visually shine through a composition of a lightweight and dynamic material that mimics the cascading and rippling nature of water. The steel exoskeleton acts as a framework upon which the facade elements are anchored, accentuating the fluidity and movement of the design. From night to day, the ever-changing pattern of light and shadow, embraces the dynamic qualities of water and light, offering a visually stunning experience for both occupants and passersby. It establishes a strong connection to lightness, while still expressing the strength and stability of the underlying structure, leaving an unforgettable impression on all who behold it. 

This project was awarded Best Senior Project.

Cultural Infrastructures: Cisterns as Urban Artifacts in Yazd by Najmeh Malekpour Bahabadi, M.S. in Architecture and Historic Preservation ‘23
Texas Tech University | Advisor: David Turturo

Yazd is a city in the arid central plateau of present-day Iran that arose around a water source in the protective Shirkuh mountain range. This water source established Yazd as an important stop on an ancient trade route, the secondary branch of the Silk Road. Water structures and facilities, including Ab-Anbars (cisterns for local water access), Yakhchaals (ice houses), Asiab (mills), Hammams (bathhouses), and Payaabs (underground ponds), played a significant role in shaping the city. These buildings are located on qanats, elaborate underground canals that guided the city’s development. Today, most of the qanats within the city are drained and have therefore lost their initial function. Some water structures are abandoned and others have been adapted to serve new purposes.

This research considers the contemporary water crisis of Yazd to bring attention to the forces that allowed these ancient water structures to shape the city both historically and presently, after losing their initial function. In particular, this project focuses on cisterns as an architectural typology. The implication is that cisterns comprise a generic architectural form that is bound to the public space and public buildings of the city. This project uses analytical drawings to identify the significance of a building type in forming the city. Such typologies are of particular value for discussing both a building’s singleness and shared features. In other words, this project is concerned not only with the forms of buildings in isolation but also with the external forces that shape those buildings and are shaped by them. As such, the cisterns act as a historical grammar for a city shaped by the architecture of water.

Instagram: @na.malekpour, @davidturturo

Still Waters Run Deep – Mobilizing Architecture through the Art of Quilting along the Lachine Canal, Montréal, Canada by Ashleigh Abraham, M.Arch ‘23
Laurentian University | Advisors: Shannon Bassett (Advisor), Claire Weisz (Second Reader) & Heather Braiden

This design research and proposal gives voice to the histories of Montréal’s Black community which, until now, have largely been untold, save through oral histories. The design proposal is for a community centre for the Black communities of Montréal’s Little Burgundy and Pointe St. Charles. This includes a Community Pool and Centre for Oral Archives, located on one of the derelict post-industrial sites along Montréal’s post-industrial Lachine Canal.

Excerpted from Ashleigh’s thesis:

Keywords: water heritage, public space, deindustrialization, eco-gentrification, oral histories, spatial justice, quilting, stewardship, Montreal

“The project maps the relationship with Montréal and water. Through the proposed re-greening and anticipated gentrification of the Lachine Canal, the critical histories of residents, neighborhoods and industrial workers have been neglected. Only through oral histories their narratives have lived on, acknowledging a fraught, yet rich and diverse history of Montréal’s industrial era. Through the intersection of interdisciplinary theory and place-based investigation, this thesis explores how architecture might utilize water as an agent to challenge existing power structures to offer cultural inclusivity and stewardship. The craft of quilting is used as a methodology for employing oral histories and establishing a framework for equitable access to the Lachine Canada. The framework established is applied to one of the canal’s discarded industrial sites, addressing spatial injustices and opportunities for community engagement within the realm of public space.

This thesis was inspired by a walk along the Lachine Canal with my grandfather, during which we discussed the canal’s history and the politics that shaped its current state. My grandparents were born in Montréal to parents from the Caribbean Island of Barbados and witnessed the city’s evolution firsthand. Oral histories were essential to their everyday lives. Offering insights into the history and experiences of a community that cannot be found in conventional records. These extraordinary tales included hardship and success, happiness and sorrow, frustration and perseverance. In her later years, my grandmother never lost her sense of belonging. She frequently referred to “home” as her childhood residence on Atwater Avenue, once in the St. Antoine neighborhood. Her residence has been demolished, and her neighborhood is unrecognizable. However, her memories were as strong and vivid as when she was a child. My grandmother’s home was expropriated and demolished, forcing her family to relocate to a place that would never feel like “home.” They persevered in maintaining strong ties to the people and locations they once frequented, despite being uprooted. They may have encountered obstacles, but they were not vanquished by their situation. In spite of adversity, they became community pillars. They forged ties with a community split apart by people and structures that did not recognize their value and place within the urban fabric of the city.”

This project won the McEwen School of Architecture (MSoA) Architecture and Society Award.

Instagram: @shannonbassett

See you in the next installment of the Student Showcase!

2023 Study Architecture Student Showcase - Part XXXI

Part XXXI of the Study Architecture 2023 Student Showcase features a project that draws inspiration from the television show Transformers. This project uses its source material to envision how multiple entities can combine into one singular structure.

Archimorphs by Ryan Del Poso, B.Arch ‘23
Woodbury University | Advisor: Cody Miner

Archimorphs contextualize the city around them. By resourcing its form from its context, it reconfigures building forms in unconventional but exciting new ways. It was inspired by the TV show Transformers, in how multiple Transformers can combine into one single entity. Filmicron is a film production studio that reimagines the way typical film studios can be configured in a way that is exciting and reflects the nature of these spaces.

This project won the Degree Projects Merit Thesis Award.

Instagram: @rdpstudio_ & @Codykminer

See you in the next installment of the Student Showcase!

2023 Study Architecture Student Showcase - Part XXX

In Part XXX of the Study Architecture Student Showcase, we take a look at student work that addresses ecological challenges. The featured projects include housing structures that mitigate flooding, coastal urban parks, prairie education centers, visualizations of toxic destruction, and more. Each design invites viewers to reflect on the connection between human and non-human environments, whether by providing ecological interventions or embracing toxic sites of ecocide.

Revitalizing the Meander by Alec Paulson, B.Arch ‘23
Tulane University | Advisor: Ruben Garcia-Rubio

Revitalizing the Meander is a project that seeks to mitigate flooding issues along a portion of the Upper Kebana River (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) through soft ecological interventions while also creating new connections across the river where they are currently missing. Most of the housing on site along the river is poorly constructed informal housing built close to the bank due to a lack of space with the rapidly growing city population. This informal housing easily floods due to the winding meanders of the river and contributes to erosion along the banks. 

The proposed masterplan for the site relocates residents who live in flooding-prone areas to new housing structures which also function as bridges, creating new connections across the river and providing amenities to residents. These connections are determined by where green streets can continue across the river, allowing pedestrians new modes of travel. Zooming into the bridge structure that was further designed at a higher resolution, one can see the connection that is created between the two proposed green streets on either side of the river. Bioswales from the green streets are continuous over the bridge structure, filtering runoff water. On one side of the structure, a market acts as an entry point to the bridge while on the other side, new housing relocates those prone to flooding. The bridge has arms that extend off it, fostering additional connections to lower levels of the structure, as well as to the river and the slow mobility path that runs along the river. In the center, urban agriculture provides a local food source for the surrounding neighborhoods and helps to mitigate fluvial flooding. 

This project was presented at the International Union of Architects (UIA) World Congress of Architects in Copenhagen 2023

Instagram: @rubgarrub

NATURE: RECLAIMED by Jason Hayden, M.Arch ‘23
University of North Carolina at Charlotte | Advisor: Chris Jarrett

In “Walking the Walk: A Path towards Praxis Inspired by an Ecological Reading of The Tale of Genji and a Japanese folktale,” Marjorie Rhine discusses the growing disconnect of the relationship between human and non-human environments. Critical of the perception of Japan as a society in harmony with nature, Rhine adopts the term ‘ecoscape’ from the field of urban ecology, offering a way of conceptualizing the complex interplay of the built and natural environments that is less human-centered. 

“Nature: Reclaimed” proposes a perspective into how a coastal greenway park shifts the balance over time between human and non-human environments in an adapted coastal urban park, which illustrates the conflict between rising sea levels, loss of native habitat and human’s perpetual desire for control over nature.

This project won the AIA Henry Medal.

Instagram: @jhayden.ii

Environmental Education Center by Ivan Flores, AAS (Pre-Architecture) ‘23
College of DuPage | Advisor: Mark Pearson


This project explores the relationship between architecture, ecology and environmental stewardship. Students are challenged to design a prairie environmental education center that will provide educational outreach to the COD community. The project site is located directly adjacent to the Russell R. Kirt Prairie, an 18-acre natural area on the College of DuPage main campus.  

The design intent of this studio project is to create an innovative and thoughtfully conceived prairie education center that will provide educational programming on sustainability, environmental stewardship and ecology. This center includes spaces for education, research, and outreach. Projects should educate visitors (and COD students) about the importance of the region’s natural heritage, as well as physically connect visitors to the prairie landscape itself. 

Successful design projects must include a clearly articulated design concept and engage the natural context of the site.  Projects are intended to embody the idea of environmental stewardship and sustainability. 


This design expresses the beauty of unique patterns formed by nature. As one walks through the prairie, the sights of tall grass and trees become overwhelming. This inspired the building’s sun shading strategy through materiality and visual appearance. The earth’s topographical map creates distinctive complex patterns that are implemented into the building’s exterior stairs. The circulation’s design intent was to reflect the particular paths in the prairie with various level changes and curves. Apart from implementing the following unique patterns into the design, there are key elements that accentuate views of the prairie to further express the beauty of unique patterns formed by nature. A long plan accommodates the space with ample views of the prairie. The roof’s pitch slopes upward to accentuate views of nature.

Instagram: @ma_pearson75, @cod_architecture

Rock and Roll by Zihua Mo & Chunyu Ma, M.Arch ‘23
University of Pennsylvania | Advisor: Simon Kim

This project is an ecological architectural initiative poised in Los Angeles’s Inglewood Oil Field. It devises an evolutionary future for the historically industrial site, bridging gaps between technology, ecology, and synthetic nature to reimagine a thriving, non-human-centric, biodiverse habitat.

Within this biodome, four architectural characters breathe life into the project. These are the Manimal, Putant, Fungle, and Outsect, each serving as a sanctuary for animals, plants, fungi, and insects respectively. Originally positioned in a grid pattern, they autonomously operate within their domains, engaging in a unique ‘rock and roll’ motion, synergistically transforming the old industrial heart of Inglewood into a revitalized natural space.

The Manimal is a marvel of bio-engineering, nurturing synthetically developed, intellectually advanced animals. These life forms, combining the grace of nature with the precision of technology, gradually assimilate into the ecosystem, their waste contributing to a vibrant ‘Waste Lagoon.’ This vivid waterbody, contrary to its name, is a source of nourishment and a symbol of rebirth, the raw material for the neighboring Putant.

The Putant, swayingly mimicking nature’s breeze, harbors and nurtures the next-generation, pollutant-absorbing plants. These green soldiers mature inside the cultivation chamber, their seeds eventually dispersed by the Putant’s gust-like motions, sowing life across the transformed oil field.

Symbiotically supporting this green wave is the Fungle, a mobile architectural body enriching the soil with vital nutrients. The Fungle rolls across the landscape, absorbing deceased organic matter, and utilizing it to cultivate various fungi, whose spores are then disseminated, forming a natural cycle of life and decay.

Overseeing this intricate world-building is the Outsect, a hovering haven for mechanical insects. It regulates material exchange within the field, deploying these mechanical insects for tasks ranging from delivery to capturing animals. Moreover, it functions as an atmospheric purifier, inhaling air for power, purifying it, and also drawing from the Waste Lagoon to disperse nourishment across the field.

Instagram: @zihua_mo, @cyyyy_ma,

Center For the Advancement of American Architecture at Fallingwater by Frank Michel, Jason Loeb & Roman Marra, BA. Arch ‘23
Miami University | Advisor: John M. Reynolds

The Fallingwater Center for the  Advancement of American Architecture is located at the  Pony Field, neighboring the Barn at Fallingwater, Mill Run, Pennsylvania. The facility will act as a visitor center set in the core of the Lands of Fallingwater, that would complement and dovetail its sibling experiences with the Fallingwater Institute. With an audience of the general public, from scholars/practitioners to laypersons, the Center attempts to promote the public understanding and appreciation of American architecture through educational programs.  From the sense of understanding the ‘DNA’ of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, we were able to move away from copying the historical monument, but instead, use its language (the integration of nature that informs its special and tectonic identity) enabling us to express the sensual content of place that became so integral towards our discovery of developing the prospect of the Modern Vernacular. The landscape is seen as a connection piece unifying paths connecting from the site. Using the established lines between the barn and the center, the intersection created a grid-like pattern that gave the feeling of a farmland topography (using native plants of the midwestern vernacular) that develops the relationship between trail and road, barn and visitor center, trail and Fallingwater. With the path of these routes, the site allows for a continuation of the journey from site event to site event, as well as being a place in of itself to explore and experience.

Instagram: @Fpmichel_design, @jasonloebdesign, @marrarchitecture

Paradigms of the Post-Natural by Charlotte Rose Bascombe & Andrea De Haro, B.Arch ‘23
Syracuse University School of Architecture | Advisors: Jean-François Bèdard, Britt Eversole & Julie Larsen

Paradigms of the Post-Natural is a thesis that rejects architects’ predilections for greenwashing. In doing so, we depict the inevitable evolution of our environment and embrace the beautifully toxic and grotesque environments that are evidently created. Specifically, we are interested in ecocides, exploited areas in which animals are forced to genetically adapt as they experience the destruction of their habitat by humans. 

We focused on the Athabasca Oil Sands in Alberta, Canada, and Chornobyl in Ukraine, two preeminent sites where industrial activity has caused a direct threat to ecological well-being. Chernobyl is an example of a disaster where the release of toxic compounds has had long-term effects on the genetic evolution of species creating a radioactive wildlife refuge. The Alberta Oil Sands is an oil reserve that highlights the detrimental effects of mining, resulting in contaminated wastewaters that release heavy metals into nearby bodies of water. These polluted environments forced humans to evacuate, while other living species were left behind to absorb the contaminants. 

Depicting these unimaginable environments, we collaborate with MidJourney, an artificial intelligence text-to-image generator. Site-specific research determined our text parameters. Using keywords such as “Iodine-131” and “polycyclic hydrocarbons”, compounds found on both sites, helped us visualize the toxic destruction. Other terms, such as “grotesque” and “photo-realistic” helped maintain a consistency in the aesthetics of these scenes. After generating our productions, we emphasized their ecologies through the microscopic scale, which led us to create material studies influenced by the characteristics of the generated scenery. Fusing our images with physical models resulted in a feedback loop that allowed for more agency in imagining alternative futures. We used various materials to reflect the detailed environments, providing us with the ability to precisely recreate the animals’ habitats. Alternating between MidJourney and model-making was crucial for the development of the final images.

Our thesis depicts the unavoidable evolution of these environments and their accompanying organisms. “Ecologies in Disguise” is an atlas that we produced, set in the year 2550, that documents a paradigm shift in the relationship between humans, flora, and fauna, where the lack of human contact becomes a defining characteristic of the new era. The impact of current “ecocides” are threatening all types of organisms, causing them to fuse and entangle with chemical substances that swarm through the environment. What ultimately emerges is the aesthetic sublime; ecosystems that simultaneously have the power to compel and destroy us. 

See you in the next installment of the Student Showcase!

2023 Study Architecture Student Showcase - Part XXVIII

In Part XXVIII of the 2023 Study Architecture Student Showcase, each project focuses on the construction and architecture fields’ roles in climate change. The presented student theses and designs present a tangible solution to address climate change with proposals ranging from using materials including mass timber and “Hempbrick” to systematic changes such as incorporating decay into the designs and introducing sustainable product life cycles. Overall, the projects advocate for reducing waste to support long-term sustainable practices.

Reconstituting Rubble by Andrew Griffin, M.Arch ‘23
University at Buffalo | Advisors: Christopher Romano & Miguel Guitart

Five hundred and thirty-four million tons of construction and demolition debris are generated by the United States every year. This debris is anonymously moved away, invisible to most, to distant landfills far removed from its origin to lie dormant at the presumed end of its life. This demolition is a natural and necessary part of our current economic cycle, the permanence of the buildings we design is too often overstated. In a time when environmental issues plague the industry, simply discarding material is no longer a reasonable long-term option. Perhaps the scope of an architect’s involvement should extend into a building’s afterlife. Reconstituting Rubble proposes an adjustment to the material flow of building debris after demolition, advocating ways of transforming architectural rubble to develop building procedures that integrate waste-bound materials into new architecture. Drawing from new innovations and old technology, the project strives to lay out building end-of-life processes to divert would-be discarded material into new building assemblies.

This research looks at demolition rubble as a continuous stream of usable material in need of transformation. The proposed process steps involve demolishing, cataloging, refining, assembling, and reconstituting. The eventual result of this process examines the qualities of rubble, the roughness, the irregularity of its texture, shape and size. These are all traces of its past and show the immense effort it took to become reconfigured remains. 

Instagram: @arc_andrewgriffin

Banished Into Existence: Agritecture at The Intersection of Architecture and Agriculture by Yan Ferris Konan, M.Arch & M.Red ‘23
University of Maryland, College Park | Advisor: Michael T. Ezban

Building operating emissions account for 28% of global greenhouse gas emissions while building components account for 11%. To mitigate these effects, we must reduce the carbon footprints of construction activities, building materials, and sequestering carbon dioxide in forests and farmland. Industrial hemp is a solution to all these challenges. Hemp is a carbon-negative crop, absorbing more carbon dioxide than trees, and thus represents a unique sequestration opportunity. By using hemp as a construction material, we can improve the thermal efficiency of our buildings, therefore reducing operational carbon. Finally, by substituting Hempbrick, a mixture of hemp and various binders, for more carbon-intensive materials, we can reduce the embodied carbon of the built environment. This thesis proposes a productive hemp landscape that will be open to the public as an agritourism destination. The project will raise public awareness about hemp cultivation as an agricultural opportunity and demonstrate the potential of hemp as a construction material, highlighting its multiple possible contributions to tackling the climate crisis.

The Intersection, located in Beltsville, Maryland, is a Productive Hybrid Hemp Farm with a visitor center, a manufacturing facility, a multipurpose Classroom, and office seating on two floors to serve as a demonstration and educational hub for Prince George’s County. This proposal aims to educate the public on the opportunities of this insulating material known as “Hempbrick.”

The site is divided into Three Parcels totaling 77 Acres. Parcel 1: Baltimore Avenue (15.5 Acres). Parcel 2: Baltimore Avenue (50 Acres). Parcel 3: Rhode Island Avenue (11.5 Acres). The Farm’s primary goal is cultivating and harvesting Hemp for industrial applications. There will also be a manufacturing facility where the hemp will be decorticated into bast and hurd fibers required to produce Hempbrick. In addition, there will be a Visitor Center where the public will learn about the benefits and processes of hemp. Tenants from The University of Maryland extensions have already expressed an interest in leasing office spaces to further their research on hemp and its advantages.

This project received The Architecture Thesis Award – 2023 University of Maryland, College Park 

Forest to Framework by Eleanor Selzer, M.Arch ‘23
University of Southern California | Advisor: Sascha Delz

With the construction industry accounting for roughly 40% of all global carbon emissions, a clear and vast opportunity exists within the Architectural and Construction industry to enact real change in fighting the climate crisis. This change, as seen from a top-down perspective within the supply chain, could include material substitutions, technology innovation and implementation, and independence from non-renewable energy sources. These initiatives geared up in practice in recent years, but the industry is lagging behind if we are to make any real impact on our emissions and meet global climate goals. 

The UN projects that there will be roughly 2.3 billion new urban dwellers by 2050. All of these new residents will require an enormous amount of infrastructure to sustain this influx, most importantly housing. Most low-to-medium-rise housing buildings are constructed using timber products, and so there is a profound opportunity to exploit this demand for new development as a means to mitigate the climate crisis and create a carbon sink within our cities. 

When designers consider viable substitutions that are readily available, mass timber products are the top contenders. The opportunity to sequester carbon from the atmosphere while also providing a structurally sound, lightweight, and aesthetic material makes wood a clear solution for fighting climate change. 

It is vital for timber products used in the construction industry to be sourced from sustainable-certified forest lands to ensure that deforestation of green reserves is mitigated and there is a guarantee of a true renewable resource. The existing supply chain, however, is not vertically integrated, and it follows the cradle-to-grave pipeline, where building materials will most likely end up in landfills following demolition. As a solution to climate impacts, the industry must introduce a closed-loop product life cycle system following the cradle-to-cradle ideology. 

This sustainable wood products cycle requires all players across the supply chain to redefine how they purchase, distribute, design and use mass timber products. The main priorities within this sustainability product cycle are ensuring the increase in sustainable land management practices, growing the demand for sustainably harvested and produced mass timber products, updates to the building codes to mandate the use of these products and creation of deconstruction and reusable toolkits that can be adopted into standard design and construction practices.   

This project seeks to re-frame the framework of sustainably harvested mass timber products and show how they can be utilized in design practices to maximize flexibility, incremental growth, reuse and adaptability. Specifically this framework is applied to an affordable housing cooperative model located in Venice Beach, Los Angeles, comprising of flexible and deconstructable mass timber modules. 

This project received the USC Master of Architecture Social & Environmental Dimensions in Directed Design Research Award – In recognition of the most outstanding graduate final degree project exploring social, cultural, and environmental concerns.

Instagram: @ellie_selzer, @coop_urbanism

Heteromorph by Grégoire Gaudreault, M.Arch ‘23
University of Montreal | Advisor: Andrei Nejur

On a global scale, more than one billion people live in precarious housing situations, many construction materials are regularly sent to landfill sites or, worse, burned. However, these rejected materials represent a richness whose reallocation would lead to a significant economy of resources. Therefore, reusing materials from the construction industry could be part of the solution. This thesis project attempts to establish an architectural response to these challenges. Specifically, the proposed solution involves a constructive system for assembling temporary shelters using a diverse range of reclaimed and heterogeneous materials. The research focus of this thesis primarily revolves around utilizing digital technologies to discover new solutions to social and urban problems, while promoting the development of innovative construction methods that aim to reduce the environmental impact of architecture.

In a conventional architectural project, the materials used are directly linked to the envisioned form conceived during the design process and are typically integrated toward the end of the project. The proposed workflow seeks to invert this logic: reclaimed materials are used as inputs to imagine the shape of a shelter. Available resources dictate the morphology and composition of the projected form. More specifically, the proposed digital solution is based on an algorithm created using visual programming software, which enables the revalorization of materials recovered from waste in the construction industry. Any shape obtained through this method is composed of a configuration of 10 typical triangles, resulting from a combination of three specific edge lengths. These triangles can be constructed using either three linear elements or a single planar element, thereby expanding the range of possible materials. Low-tech metal nodes are utilized to connect these elements, facilitating the assembly and disassembly of the system. This flexibility allows for several variations or even partial or complete reconfiguration of the initial shape. In addition, the proposed system’s evolutive character encourages its components’ re-employment to limit its environmental impact.

This project received “Prix de l’Observatoire Ivanhoé Cambridge Nomination au Prix d’excellence pour étudiants Canadian Architect”

Instagram: @greg_g, @fac_ame_umontreal, @architecture.udem

An Architecture of Decay: Addressing Building Waste Through Biologically Integrated Architecture by Carson Stickney, M.Arch ‘23
Lawrence Technological University | Advisors: Scott Shall (Chair), Dan Faoro (Member) & Sara Codarin (Member)

There is a dissonance within architectural practice between buildings designed to be permanent, and the inevitability of building impermanence. This produces unusable waste at the end of a building’s life cycle. Materials are designed to become obsolete and replaced over time, leading to additional waste during a building’s inhabitance. Construction conventions value the low-cost consumption of resources such as concrete and metals over their effect on the environment (McDonough, Braungart, 2002). The current model of construction, maintenance, and demolition that most buildings go through ignores the resources and materials that are used and discarded, creating by-products that can never be used again by humans or the natural environment.

In order to align programmatic lifecycles with building creation and material decay, architects must incorporate decay in design, allowing building materials to continuously support human and biological use when a building is abandoned or demolished (figure 0.1). All buildings must die, but their material by-products do not need to be wasted. Incorporating decay is an opportunity for the future growth of architectural spaces and realigns the buildings that we make with the natural cycles that affect them. Therefore, to explore this potential, and minimize the waste associated with a building’s decay or demolition, architects need to design buildings and urban landscapes with the eventual decay of products in mind, to eliminate wasted resources, and reinforce the existing natural cycles impacting our work.

To investigate this claim, this project will design a 2-story mixed-use structure, using fully biodegradable materials. This development type has a legacy in architectural practice and is a staple construction type of most major U.S. cities. It also acts as an advantageous operating system relative to this thesis due to its cyclical resiliency to programmatic cycles, and its need for continual replacement and maintenance of materials. This investigation is intended to relink human spaces with natural ones, fostering the perpetual growth and balance of both systems with each other.

Instagram: @cstickney02, @scott_shall

Passing Permanence: Reversible Building Practices in the U.S. by Aaron Baldwin, M.Arch ‘23
Lawrence Technological University | Advisors: Scott Shall, M.Arch/RA, Sara Cordarin, Ph.D & Daniel Faoro March/UD, RA

The construction and demolition industries generate abhorrent amounts of waste through the inefficient generation and unplanned removal of permanently intentioned buildings that cannot last forever. Current strategies of material construction often consume, permanently alter or degrade materials being used, resulting in the inability to wholly reuse valuable building components. As a result, existing unused structures will often become waste, or require resource-intensive recycling or remanufacturing to salvage portions of material (USEPA 2018).

Buildings are not permanent. The current lack of life-cycle design and expectation for buildings to last indefinitely leads to a loss of “technical nutrient” potential (Braungart 2002). The reduction of waste, the continued reuse of materials and designing for component longevity can achieve a fundamental level of sustainability, as the concept of waste is antithetical to the ability to maintain a process over time. To recapture the potential of a building and remove the ecologically harmful effects of permanence that occur after the building is no longer needed, the production, construction, use and demolition of architecture should ‘leave minimal trace’ on its building materials and site.

A current lack of reversible and circular practice in the U.S. exists due to many existing social, cultural and economic factors. The focus on tradition, risk aversion and bountiful space for new development allows the country to remain stagnant and reliant on existing building methodologies without the push for change. Initial reversible architecture located in the U.S. will not be made out of newly developed components, but primarily of existing standardized materials joined in newly reversible methods.

Architecture should not be destructive. An architecture that leaves minimal trace does not have to employ highly engineered componentry and new modular solutions that restrict design outcomes but rather can modify existing techniques and tectonic understandings to remove wasteful practices that intentionally degrade or destroy material resources. Minimal trace architecture simultaneously upholds the health of its materiality through the redefinition of connection types while supporting its site and larger context through the removal of systemic inefficiencies and unnecessary permanently intended change.

See you in the next installment of the Student Showcase!

2023 Study Architecture Student Showcase - Part XXVII

Welcome to Part XXVII of the Study Architecture Student Showcase! Today’s featured work focuses on the care of elderly populations. From dementia care centers to a multi-use facility that promotes multi-generational encounters, each design and thesis looks at various methodologies to promote optimal well-being for the elderly.

Design to Heal – Dementia Care Center in Goa, India by Surbhi Subhash Ghodke, M.Arch ‘23
University of Utah, School of Architecture | Advisor: Anne Mooney, FAIA, NCARB, LEED AP

Dementia is a growing concern in India, affecting a significant number of older adults. To address this issue, a dementia care center is being designed in Goa, India. The center aims to provide a holistic environment that promotes the well-being and spiritual needs of individuals with dementia.

The design prioritizes wayfinding and natural light usage, acknowledging the challenges faced by patients transitioning from private homes to shared living spaces. The center creates a sense of belonging by incorporating familiar spaces and a friendly atmosphere.

Inspired by traditional Indian architectural elements, the campus design draws from the Wada architecture of Maharashtra. Verandahs, patios, jali (perforated screens), and multiple courtyards are utilized to enhance air circulation and maximize daylight. The design fosters a sense of community, resembling a close-knit village with rooms placed along courtyards.

The care center features multiple purposeful courtyards accessed through narrow paths, encouraging patients to explore and engage with their surroundings. Varying levels of visual access aid wayfinding and social engagement. Colors, textures, and patterns are used as visual cues to differentiate areas and rooms.

Given the tropical climate in Goa, the campus incorporates large overhangs, circular cutouts for plantations, and water bodies to provide shade and maintain a cool environment. Perforated brick facades offer privacy while allowing natural light and cool breezes to flow into the campus.

To add an element of playfulness, the roof design includes roofs of varying heights and shapes. Daylight integration through skylights and effective rainwater drainage systems are incorporated, with rainwater collected for lotus plantations and gardens on the campus.

The campus design utilizes local materials such as red laterite bricks and stone, aligning with the vernacular architecture of rural Goa and respecting the surrounding context.

Overall, the design of the dementia care center in Goa aims to create a people-centered environment that addresses the physical, spiritual, and emotional needs of individuals with dementia. 

This project received the 2023 ARCC KING STUDENT MEDAL for innovation, integrity, and scholarship in architectural research.

Lending a Hand to Guryong Village: Agency, Community, and Shared Economies by Jonathan Chung, M.Arch ‘23
Carleton University | Advisor: Jerry Hacker

Using Guryong village (a self-built community in Seoul, South Korea) as the site of investigation, this thesis explores the spatial relationships and architectures of care between the state and the city’s ignored and most vulnerable citizens. Recognizing the residents’ progress in self-creation and self-provision, the question of interest is what degree of aid should be provided for the waste economy to further enhance community and quality of life for those in the village. To date, Guryong village has been subject to debate over land ownership and government provisions; however, this thesis endeavors to explore the role, active and creative users hold in lending a hand to normalizing waste collection and making it more accessible. Research methodologies include literature and media reviews, on-site experience, analytical drawing, and research through design. As a result, this thesis proposes a singular infrastructural framework of three agents of support at three different scales intended to further the agency and community of those in Guryong village: an agent for travel, for storage, and for collection and resource. Specifically, these infrastructures augment the existing self-created economy of waste transformation led by the elderly of the village and South Korea. Therefore, using architecture’s potential to create broader citizen and urban dialogue, this work strives to help build a better understanding of the value and state of self-actualized spaces and their communities, and to reflect on the impact of community on an individual, city, country, and the world. 

This project received the Boraks Prize.

Morgan State University, School of Architecture & Planning | Advisor: Carlos A. Reimers

The elderly are isolated in our American cities, and suffer depression and the looming thought of the endpoint of their lives drawing near. Conventional independent and assisted living facilities may be good buildings, but they usually serve only the function of housing, shelter, and health. Where is the life of it though? Residents interact with their care providers and others their age. The youth exuberates life and enjoyment, none of that is present in these facilities. The vision for this project is not only to integrate generations together, but to provide the elderly with the motivation to embrace life instead of feeling isolated and stressed about the end. A building that has multiple uses to integrate multi-generational encounters.

This project won the Best Thesis Award

Instagram: @reimerscarlos

Bedlam by Leka Mpigi, M.Arch ‘23
University of Southern California | Advisor: John Southern

Architecture can play a more vital role in the built environment that goes beyond urban organization and aesthetic value. Statistics show that as humans regardless of character, belief, and ability, are most affected by the spaces we inhabit in comparison to any other mortal factors. Exploring collage with the intent to explore design elements such as color, light and mass presents us with the potential to optimize the spaces we create, not just visually, but also functionally. Functionality is no longer defined only through the narrow lens of practicality and usefulness as humans have evolved, looking inward toward the importance of features that aid, not just physical ability, but also mental stability and growth. It is important that architecture in all sectors perseveres to not only try to follow but also lead this conversation. Designing to accommodate human behavior such as eating, bathing, and sleeping have been explored on thorough levels being that the focus group only includes a small percentage of people with all abilities intact. However, limiting ourselves to this scale of exploration sells us short not just as a profession but as members of the global community at large. Theories of the appropriate manipulation of color, light and mass have been studied to be able to produce the highest quality of space that not only guarantees overall wellness but also longevity and potentially by 2040 a greater population of people living more cognitively over 65 years old. 

The age group most affected by all concepts discussed above is the elderly 55+ population and to critically analyze the claims I have made above; I have decided to narrow down my research to members of this community with cognitive impairments such as dementia. This thesis will reevaluate the current living conditions on a local scale here in Los Angeles but will arguably be effective also in other cities and possibly countries, keeping in mind that culture and tradition do play a vital role in the connections people have to design elements such as color and light. The remodeling of a curated sample of already existing nursing homes will create room for critical evaluation showing how these spaces can be optimized for patients with certain formal architectural and interior design edits. I predict that this experiment will not only create care homes that are more visually and aesthetically pleasing but also potential optimal wellness environments proven to slow or in rare cases even reverse the decline of people with dementia over time. The ideal space in this experiment will have the following characteristics: negotiability (obstacle-free), familiarity and sensory stimulation (ways to trigger memory and recall). On this foundation, I will also introduce researched elements such as color coding, friendly mass (non-triggering forms) and light therapy to enhance set sample space. It is important to note that these experiments are amenable to and require implantation and validation. However these prototypes are based on research, many observations of case studies, and interviews with facility directors with their opinions occasionally taken into play due to their years of onsite hands-on experiences.

This project received a USC Master of Architecture Distinction in Directed Design Research

Instagram: @mii_beii, @urbanops

See you in the next installment of the Student Showcase!

2023 Study Architecture Student Showcase - Part XXVI

In Part XXVI of the Study Architecture Student Showcase, the featured projects support and serve marginalized populations – from a thesis that presents a series of fictional architectural scenarios to critically question ableism in architecture to multigenerational housing for minority groups to promote cross-generational solidarity. Each project confronts a systemic issue by offering tangible architecture-based solutions.

Towards an Anti-Ableist Architecture by Matthew Schrage, B.Arch ‘23
Virginia Tech School of Architecture | Advisor: Andrew Gipe-Lazarou

This thesis is a manifesto for Anti-Ableist architecture.

Towards an Anti-Ableist Architecture is uninterested in supporting or ascribing to dominant modes of thinking on the topic of disability in architecture. It is uninterested in furthering the endless search for more practical “solutions,” more checklists, or more “easy” answers to further obscure a deeply rooted political and historical problem.

This thesis presents a broad critique of the topic of disability and ableism in architecture. It aims to break architecture from the tired ways of thinking that it sparsely ever questions. It calls on the discipline to critically question and reconsider why it must address disabled bodies in the peculiar ways it does.

Towards an Anti-Ableist Architecture seeks to properly understand the topic of disability and ableism in architecture as a centuries-long political and historical project. It aims to reveal the ways in which architecture has relentlessly dehumanized, erased, patronized, and shut out disabled people while denying our bodies, experiences, cultures, communities, and histories any contribution to architecture itself. It seeks to retire prejudicial ways of thinking that see us as merely a set of functional aberrances, whose bodies are to be paternalistically “granted access” by a unanimously nondisabled profession.

Towards an Anti-Ableist Architecture addresses a discipline that designs its buildings for the mythical norm and views our perspectives as exterior to architecture entirely. It critiques a discipline that universally assumes its subjects to be able-bodied and to unquestioningly possess the qualities of able-bodied people. It attacks architectural histories and theories that aestheticize the able-bodied person as architecture’s definitive human, as “universal,” “pure,” “harmonious,” and “standard.” It critiques a discipline that normalizes our discrimination and nonchalantly allows the production of inaccessible buildings with little to no alarm.

Following the established legacy of “paper architecture” as a tool of ideological critique, this thesis’s main design project, The Ultimatum, formulates a satirical narrative about disability and architecture in a sequence of ten “Acts.” Through a series of fictional architectural scenarios, The Ultimatum parodies the discipline of architecture, calling on it to properly confront its ongoing complicity in the oppression of disabled people and other marginalized groups.

This project received the Undergraduate Thesis Prize for Critique of the Architectural Discipline.

Instagram: @mschrage99 

A STOP WORTH WAITING FOR: designing a better DART bus shelter by Sumayyah Abdullah, Bamluck Abera, Victor Almaraz, Sandra Calzadillas, Marvin Diaz, Maryam Hashim Jacqueline Hernandez, David Hine, Vanessa Huerta, Vanesa Lopez, Diandra Osorio, Kennett Rivera Ayesha Shaikh, Berenice Velasquez, Richa Verma & Tasfia Zahin, B.Arch ‘23
University of Texas at Arlington | Advisor: Julia Lindgren

Public transportation networks impact how our cities function, enhance the quality of life for their residents and stimulate economic development. A good bus shelter is an essential part of any successful urban mass transit system. What constitutes “good,” however, depends upon your point of view. This design-build project proposes a future Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) bus shelter that re-imagines the design of existing infrastructure to optimize public benefit.

DART currently services 13 cities through 6,800 bus stops that accommodate over 20 million riders annually. Under its new bus network plan, DART calculates that 75% of people located in DART’s service area live within walking distance of a bus stop. This offers an opportunity to expand resources to areas that are currently underserved by public amenities, parks, and artistic expression. “A Stop Worth Waiting For” showcases the work of the University of Texas at Arlington’s architecture students who worked in collaboration with DART and AIA Dallas to design and build a prototype to explore what the metroplex’s next-generation bus shelter could be.

UTA’s College of Architecture, Planning and Public Affairs design-build program works to engage students with communities to tackle our most challenging urban issues. By coupling direct public engagement with design and making, the new bus shelter enhances rider experience, responds to environmental conditions, and expands neighborhood amenities. The prototype and complimentary exhibition were developed during the fall 2022 semester with input from DART bus riders, front-line workers, advisors, and leadership. The prototype was shared publicly on social media to solicit additional public design input that will inform its next iteration. This project was generously supported by DART and AIA Dallas.

This project received the ASLA Texas Student Honor Award

INNER CITY by Sierra Grant, M.Arch ‘23
University of North Carolina at Charlotte | Advisor: Thomas Forget

Inner City creates a connection between neighborhoods. Typically American suburbs are split by socioeconomic segregation and ethnic lines. The original inhabitants of the American suburb have suffered not only from white flight in the 1950s but also from urban revitalization that’s led to our current state of mass gentrification. People are divided and communities are disconnected. Inner City aims to stitch these gaps by creating a suburban green loop throughout the city with a new typology of alternative flex-housing that inserts the city’s nontraditional and underserved occupants into the suburbs while also implementing an intense interplay of public space into private living.

This project was recognized as “Exploration Excellence in Critical”

Instagram: @_sierragrant_

Housing for Youth by Sara Serrano, B.A. in Architecture ‘23
University of Illinois at Chicago | Advisor: Alexander Eisenschmidt

Little Village is one of the densest neighborhoods in Chicago. It has an estimated population of 73,826 people with 17,000 living per square mile. The population is mostly made up of minority groups who co-live with relatives in increasingly dense conditions. Therefore, the proposal envisions collective multigenerational housing that gives each generation an apartment but also encourages interaction between the younger and elderly generations. By organizing their units across from each other and implementing large entrance doors that can swing open to connect to the opposite unit, an interface is created that at least facilitates social exchange and, at best, cross-generational solidarity. Each individual unit is conceived as a single space with alcoves for secondary rooms to sleep, cook, and bath. When the doors to the secondary rooms are closed, a single open space appears while opening the swing doors from one side of the unit transforms the apartment into an enfilade.

Instagram: @Eisenschmidt_a

American Conditions by Pedro Aguero, M. Arch ‘23
University of Nebraska–Lincoln | Advisor: Zeb Lund

In this representation of an American Foursquare house, each side represents different realities that too often simultaneously occupy the same space. 

The contrast between these two conditions raises questions about the impact of short-term rentals on the price and quality of housing for low-income families. When short-term rentals exceed the profitability of long-term rentals, there is an incentive for landlords to book their properties as homestays, reducing the supply of long-term rentals in a city. Furthermore, as the available affordable long-term rentals wane, overcrowding and subpar housing become the only alternatives for the most vulnerable segments of the population.

50/50 Co-op by Yufei Wang, M.Arch. ‘23
University of Southern California | Advisor: Sascha Delz

In response to the escalating housing prices and the evolving demands for living arrangements, 50/50 COOP presents an innovative housing model that facilitates adaptable interior spaces. The limitations imposed by conventional houses on people’s space requirements are now a thing of the past. In here, SPACE breaks into SPACE ELEMENT. Each element represents an essential living experience of housing. By offering a dynamic marketplace, 50/50 COOP simplifies the process of acquiring these space elements, likening it to purchasing a pre-owned car. This unique marketplace for space elements not only enables individuals to reduce their cost of living but also grants them unparalleled flexibility in choosing their desired living arrangements. 

The 50/50 Cooperative will gradually grow from VENICE in Los Angeles to a project that spans the United States. It has four main stakeholder entities, community land trust, 50/50 COOP, members and space elements market, and the COOP keeps the organization running by taking in government funds, community donations, dues and rental stores. All 50/50 COOP facilities adhere to a unified standard that facilitates the seamless movement of space elements within the organization. 

This design philosophy aims to liberate individuals from being bound to a specific house. With the support of 50/50 COOP’s widespread facilities across the country, people can effortlessly relocate their living spaces. This mobility empowers individuals to embrace a more flexible lifestyle, where they are not confined to a fixed location but can freely and easily move their homes within the network of 50/50 COOP facilities.

This project received the USC Master of Architecture Distinction in Directed Design Research

Instagram: @yufei__w, @coop_urbanism

See you in the next installment of the Student Showcase!

2023 Study Architecture Student Showcase - Part XXV

Biomaterials are the central theme of the projects featured in Part XXV of the Study Architecture Student Showcase. From BioRock to mushrooms and mycelium, the showcased work goes beyond the traditional uses of biomaterials to propose alternatives that offer symbiotic outcomes by simultaneously solving architectural challenges and promoting sustainability.

Toronto’s Terrestrial Reefs by Cameron Penney, M.Arch ‘23
Carleton University | Advisor: Lisa Moffitt

Toronto’s Terrestrial Reefs explores the design potentials of BioRock, an underutilized accreting material that simulates the reef-building processes of corals. BioRock is a grown limestone, alternative to concrete with a design agency that has many positive benefits including its ability to act as an ecological scaffold, sequester pollutants, and be highly sustainable. This work proposes three speculative applications of BioRock within urban Toronto that go beyond the typical marine-based applications that this material has been historically restrained to. These include the reintroduction of Alvar habitats as a landscape strategy, the remediation of obsolete reservoirs for BioRock production, and the in-situ repair of concrete bents supporting the Gardiner Expressway.

­The research approach included material experiments, lab work, and data analysis. A series of experiments were conducted that tested various morphologies and growing conditions within a self-made wet lab. This means of working developed an understanding of the material from a hands-on perspective to speculate upon new uses for architectural design. Next, interviews were conducted with an interdisciplinary team of consultants which promoted conversations between research in material ecology and landscape ecology. First, a Professor of Biology and coral reef researcher, Dr. Nigel Waltho. This conversation shed insight on BioRock’s limiting factors including its growth rate. Second, a Professor of Chemistry, Dr. Bob Burk, spoke to the practicalities of BioRock industrial-scale synthesis. Thirdly, an Electrical Engineer, Dr. Jianqun Wang from the Carleton Nano Imaging Facility lab. By working with Dr. Wang, material samples were analyzed under a scanning electron microscope to determine the type of BioRock produced, the relative strength of the material, and its capabilities in the repair of concrete at the nanoscale. Finally, a Landscape Ecologist, Dr. Jessica Lockhart from the Geomatics and Landscape Ecology Research Lab. Informed by the literature produced at her lab, a landscape strategy via a habitat network modeling script was developed.

The resulting design was explored through these experimental models and test fragments of BioRock which formed a library of artifacts that traverse biogeochemical scales of speculation, assembling a collection of work in the form of a Terrestrial Reef.

This project won the Maxwell Taylor Prize.

Instagram: @_campenney

Hotel Elena by Kristi Saliba, B.Arch ‘23
University of Oklahoma | Advisor: Amy Leveno

Viva Terlingua!

The initial phase of this fifth-year undergraduate studio will run as part science lab/part sculpture studio/part fabrication shop. Students will break up into teams to research, explore, and document the process of creating hempcrete through hands-on explorations. 

The second part of this studio will explore the role of natural building and hospitality through the design of a boutique hotel in Terlingua, Texas, a town just outside an entrance to Big Bend National Park. Students will work in teams to create a building that responds appropriately to the harsh beauty of the surrounding landscape through high design with a focus on natural building systems and sustainability. Students will also select their individual project sites around the area, define their target clientele, and craft a program that appropriately serves that site and demographic.

Knitting together the first and second parts of the studio will be the fabrication of a full-size wall section demonstrating how hempcrete is utilized in a typical wall section.  

Instagram: @kristi.saliba

Fungus Among Us by Yitao Guo & Kinamee Rhodes, M.Arch ‘23
UCLA Architecture and Urban Design | Advisor: Simon Kim

Architecture of the future will be built with mycelium – the root structure of fungi. Mycelium is a renewable building material, currently in an experimental stage in the form of lightweight bricks, insulation, and flooring. This facility is dedicated to expanding the possibilities of this material, envisioning a post-anthropocentric world of mycological architecture. A forest of bent steel creates a pliant stack-floor building with post-into beams that allow for bounce and deflection. A bio-tunnel for cultivation and circulation intersects with the big-box typology. The spaces inscribed but never enclosed in the building reference Archizoom, lshigami, and Toyo Ito with their extensibility and density. Ultimately, the orchestration of sloping slabs and inside/outside structural clusters is a re-imagination of the principles of a myco-Raumplan.

Learning From Yucatan by Anna Hartley & Maggie Jaques, M.Arch ‘23
Kansas State University | Advisors: David Dowell, Ted Arendes, Salvador Macias, Magui Peredo & Diego Quirarte


Mexico is a very diverse cultural and natural mosaic. We have had the opportunity to work in several parts of the country, from our location in Guadalajara. Somehow we have worked as “foreigners” in our own country. However, from that foreign perspective, we have found particularly in the Yucatan Peninsula a place of enormous learning and a source of inspiration that continues to captivate us.

This region of the country is one of the most prolific in its biodiversity, abundance of natural resources, and extraordinary cultural past.

The Yucatan Peninsula witnessed the flourishing of the Mayan Culture. In Yucatan, a large part of the population today is still Mayan. Despite having more than two thousand years of existence, the Mayan communities still speak the original dialect, they give continuity to the gastronomic tradition, and above all, keep on living the same way: in small complexes that become a house, a bedroom, a garden, an orchard, a farmyard, a kitchen, etc. This fascinating and sustainable phenomenon has attracted and moved us deeply.

All of this has made the Yucatan Peninsula a huge international tourist magnet, but also a place of pilgrimage for contemporary life that seeks a sustainable, peaceful way of life, connected with nature and respectful of the environment. As if the Mayan way of life, in a certain sense, began to be “adopted” as a way of life by followers of their culture.

In 1972, Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown published “Learning From Las Vegas,” the research project they made with their students understanding the city. Calling for architects to be more receptive to the ordinary and to overcome the forgotten idea of “symbolism” in modern architecture at the time.

The studio attempts, through the title, to recall this model of study and tries to provoke students to board on a similar journey of exploration. Like a foreigner who tries to examine a new and adverse territory, and interact with it without prejudgment in order to learn from it. That is why we introduce one of the many drawings that Frederick Catherwood made when he joined the American explorer John Lloyd Stephens on his discovery journey of the Yucatan Peninsula in 1839 and that they would publish in 1841.

From the learning and the reflection, we will invite students to produce contemporary ways of living based on the principles, the ways of life, the local conditions, and the ways of making this unique place.

This project won the 2023 Kremer Prize for Best Group Project.

Instagram: @ksudesignmake 

BacTerra: Designing Across Scales by Claire Leffler & Kimia Bam Farahnak,B. Arch,  MAAD ( M. Advanced Arch Design) ‘23
California College of the Arts, Architecture Division | Advisors: Margaret Ikeda, Evan Jones & Negar Kalantar

The research goal of BacTerra is to investigate the potential for a biomaterial to reduce embodied carbon in building components and to be accessible to communities around the world. Many animal species have the capacity to form hard shells which rely on chemical and biological reactions. This serves as a model for how to avoid the intense heat energy required for industrial building materials like concrete and bricks. Cement-based concrete production is responsible for 8% of total Co2 emissions per year, meanwhile, plankton, mollusks and birds are all capable of fabricating shells through the precipitation of calcium carbonate from their environment efficiently and without hazardous output. Utilizing these species as a source of inspiration the student research focused on leveraging these biological processes to produce bio-mineralization in a mixture that combined clay, a safe and widely available B.Subtilis bacteria, sea urchin shells (a calcium carbonate local resource), and extruded fabrication at the scale of architectural components.

This thesis was a BioDesign Challenge top 8 finalist and received the Outstanding Science Award.

Instagram: @architecturalecologieslab

MUTUALISME, Symbiotic bio-organization at the service of a living program by Anaïa Duclos, M.Arch. ‘23
University of Montreal | Advisor: Andrei Nejur

This project uses architecture to slow down the intensive transformation of territory by the food production sector. Between 2019 and 2020, 1,362,000 tonnes of construction waste were discarded. This represents 28% of all landfill waste in Québec. Gypsum board partitions are extremely prevalent in buildings and urban environments, but they are also highly polluting. During their deconstruction, they are mostly thrown away and buried in landfills.

The project reappropriates gypsum board partitions to create a productive wall, thus slowing down the transformation of the territory. It addresses a new vital human need beyond that of housing, it provides food as well.

The living program is defined by the production of mushrooms through the structure of the traditional gypsum board partition. It infiltrates unused space and adapts to optimize its surface within a given area. Cracks and folds in the structure increase the surface area where mushrooms can grow. The human program offers workshop rooms on mycelium and its usage, creating a learning center for mycomaterials. Surrounding this program where human activities take place, is the living program in constant growth.

The process enriches the neighborhood users as well as the living program. Local residents bring their waste to the learning center, which serves as a substrate for the mycelium to enhance production. The transformed mycelium can then be collected by visitors, and the mushrooms are harvested for consumption. The result is a symbiotic relationship and mutual enrichment at the heart of the city.

Instagram: @anais.duclos,, @fac_ame_umontreal, @architecture.udem

See you in the next installment of the Student Showcase!

2023 Study Architecture Student Showcase - Part XXIV

Welcome to Part XXIV of the Study Architecture Student Showcase! Today’s featured work focuses on affordable housing and tackles topics ranging from integrating mixed-use housing to eliminating the process of temporary relocation within revitalization projects. Read on for more details!

ELEVATED FABRIC DISTRICT by Briana Callender, B.Arch ‘23
The New York Institute of Technology | Advisor: Prof. Michelle Cianfaglione

This thesis explores the past, present and future of affordable housing in New York City by understanding the typologies that define tenement housing. We can better understand what was lacking in these infrastructures and can therefore begin to assess the addition of new typologies that can better service our demographic who need housing that is affordable and functional. Such as designated spaces within the complex that allow for necessary utilities or flexible volumes that tenants can use for community-centered activities which help build social capital within the building. 

The use of office buildings with increasing vacancies is a great case study for this kind of project. For this thesis, we chose to study Morgan North Postal Facility. It occupies an entire city block, solving the issue of space but not the tenement problem of light and air. By imposing the geometry of the dumbbell plan, the creation of air wells is possible and creates open-air shared spaces —while also relating the form back to what inspired it. Some of these cavities are public, while others are only accessible by tenants.  

Due to the proximity of the highline, the form was able to suggest a way to deal with excess foot traffic by extending the highline and inviting it into the cavities created by the air wells, allowing the highline to continue interweaving throughout the city and connecting similar re-adaptive projects that would soon follow suit, therefore creating an elevated network of housing which can be known as the Elevated Fabric District.  

Instagram: @michellecianfaglione, @nyitarch, @exdarchitecture

Low-Rise LNK by Luryn Hendrickson & Haley Herman, Bachelor of Science in Design: Architecture ‘23
University of Nebraska-Lincoln | Advisor: Michael Harpster

This project features a design for a dense, low-rise housing development breaks from the traditional, rectilinear apartment building. A series of user-specific apartments flats, co-op living spaces, and townhomes were designed and aggregated into separate buildings spread across the site. Each building was situated in a way that promoted a sense of ownership while also creating pockets of green space that serve as community spaces. Utilizing a Community Unit Plan zoning mechanism alongside a community land trust, the project is ultimately able to achieve greater density on the site than typically allowed while also restricting gentrification of the neighborhood and promoting a sense of community.

This project received the SGH Concepts + Dri-Design Honor Award (2nd Place): An internal UNL College of Architecture design competition for fourth-year undergraduate students. 

Instagram: @unl_mharpster

Building an Architecture of Non-Displacement: Preserving Community through a Revitalized Construction Process by Allyzza-Danica Valino, M.Arch ‘23
Lawrence Technological University | Advisors: Scott Shall (Committee Chair), Joonsub Kim (Member) & Edward Orlowski (Member)

As professionals, architects are tasked with adding value through their designs by renovating buildings and revitalizing cities. These tasks are in service to their clients, who are powerful patrons who wish to leverage the architecture produced to strengthen prestige, valuing development above other stakeholders like the community (Crawford, 1991). As a result, architects often become unwitting agents in gentrification, a process of culturally and economically transforming a historically disinvested neighborhood. Although the architect’s role in gentrification is incontrovertible, the architect does have the ability to minimize some of the harmful effects of gentrification, one of which is displacement, where communities are physically or culturally erased from a neighborhood. 

Many tactics have the potential to minimize displacement that can be used by architects, including project delivery, cost management, and participatory design, but the most effective tactics are often reinforced through governmental agencies. One example is the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, where the U.S. Department of Urban Housing and Development promotes neighborhood-scale revitalization without the direct displacement of low-income residents – a goal that is achieved through temporary relocation during construction. Unfortunately, these tactics have proven ineffective with only 30% of residents returning after relocation (University of Illinois Chicago, 2021). However, new technology is emerging that may allow for a more radical approach, specifically an in-place construction process that eliminates the need to relocate households, thereby preventing displacement. This thesis will re-evaluate design practices by eliminating the process of temporary relocation within revitalization projects, which will preserve both existing culture and original housing during construction without disrupting the lives of residents. 

To investigate this strategy, this thesis will focus on the redevelopment of Clement Kern Gardens, an existing affordable housing project located in Detroit, Michigan. Clement Kern Gardens is part of a larger-scale vision encompassed by the Greater Corktown Framework Plan, funded by the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative grant. The proposed design investigation will be compared to the current redevelopment plan of Clement Kern Gardens and the precedent study of Grove Parc Plaza in Chicago to evaluate whether or not a reformed construction process might help to eliminate displacement. If successful, this thesis will offer a way in which architects might add value relative to the disenfranchised within the construction process, in a similar fashion to how architects and clients add value to cities. 

This project received the 2023 CoAD (College of Architecture and Design) Alumni Award

Instagram: @scott_shall

YARD56 by Veronica Restrepo, M.Arch ‘23
University of Washington | Advisor: Rick Mohler

Seattle is one of the Nation’s fastest-growing cities, according to the Census Bureau. Its population has grown almost 19% over the last ten years. The supply of affordable housing has not kept up with the demand created by the booming economy and high-wage jobs in the area. Yet, 40% of Seattle households remain low-income. Yard56 aims to integrate sustainability with the rising inequities of housing affordability. Located in the fast-growing neighborhood of Ballard within the city of Seattle, Yard56 provides a total of 82,000 SF with a mix of affordable housing, live/work units, retail, and community outdoor space. Anchoring Northwest 56th Street and 20th Avenue Northwest, Yard56 is in a designated hub urban village, which provides a comprehensive growth plan. This enables and ensures a livable future and growing sustainably through accommodating a broad mix of uses and access to pedestrian and transit-oriented transportation.

Instagram: @mohler.rick, @veronicarstrepo

House to Housing by Mengru Zhao, M.Arch. ‘23
UCLA AUD | Advisor: Feghali Yara

Los Angeles has served as a storied context for the single-family home as both a site of architectural invention and cultural desire and as an instrument of wealth creation. These dual narratives persist today despite economic realities that make both stories far less suitable to their intended audiences. This studio will unpack these dual narratives in order to survey their histories and understand their widespread effects. The impact of these LA histories mirrors those of the U.S. housing market more broadly. In turn, these social, political, economic and environmental effects have severely limited housing supply, affordability and sustainability, and have shifted the site of the architectural problem from house to housing. It is this shift that the studio will engage as a set of spatial, organizational and social potentials for design to interrogate.

The value of homeownership has underpinned not only the American economy but the very image of American life for much of the past century. Homeownership provided a foothold on the economic ladder, stability in community life, and the fantasy of manifest destiny at the heart of the “American dream”. However, with the collapse of the housing market and the transformation of the economy over the past decade, the housing dream—which masked the many exclusions it had been built upon—has been revealed as such. The barrier to entry into the housing market has become impossible for most and is especially steep in Los Angeles where home prices have skyrocketed and fueled waves of gentrification and displacement, further eroding the economic prospects of Angelenos and the social and cultural fabric of the city.

Instagram: @feghali.yara

Dream Together & Miscellaneous Mutations by Brandon Smith, M.Arch. ‘23
University of Southern California | Advisor: Yaohua Wang

Dream Together is a large-scale mixed-use project that uses imaginative forms to highlight the uniqueness of each citizen who interacts with it. In addition, the project aims to heal the housing and urban sprawl issues of Los Angeles while challenging the tradition of the typology in which commercial occupies the bottom and residential occupies the top. This allows programs to sprawl throughout the building rather than simply being stacked in layers – adding to its humanistic residential qualities as is seen with the programmatic zoning of a home. Dream Together reflects this and in a sense is a mixed-mixed-use project. For an Angeleno, the most desirable residential circumstance is the home. Dream Together acknowledges this culture and molds architectural typological conventions to adequately react to its surroundings. In this project, the building formally orients, subtracts, and protrudes itself based on key urban resources such as schools, grocery stores, religious centers, or hospitals. The project acts as an urban connector in which people can access varying resources without the dependence of a vehicle; inspired by Hong Kong’s mall culture. The primitive shapes of the project introduce playfulness while breaking the orthogonal formal qualities of a typical mixed-use project.

Miscellaneous Mutations is the second part of the project and is a further study of the formal qualities of the Dream Together via the already-made physical three-dimensional pieces. Essentially, where Dream Together features these pieces assembled through defined contextual parameters from research, Miscellaneous Mutations features the pieces in a new light dictated purely by aesthetics and formal discovery. This second part creates the discussion of revisiting a design perceived as finished. Perhaps a design can become more and more contextual than meets the eye. Suffice to say, Miscellaneous Mutations celebrates the saying “Design Never Stops”.

This project received the USC Master of Architecture Design Communication in Directed Design Research Award – In recognition of the most outstanding graduate final degree project illustrating advanced presentation and graphic communication.

Instagram:  @arch.brandonsmith, @yaohua_wwww

Producing Community by Tessa Hill, B.Arch ’23
Ball State University | Advisors: Robert Koester and Jonathan Spodek

Younger generations want to live in cities and yet most neighborhoods are afflicted by limited housing choices, disconnection from food sources and public transportation, and are often also dangerous environments for pedestrians. These problems have made existing neighborhoods undesirable. So, how can neighborhoods be systemically redeveloped to address current concerns so that they don’t become exacerbated in the future?

This project proposes the strategic implementation of infill housing and urban food production in the redevelopment of existing neighborhoods. The McKinley neighborhood in Muncie, Indiana was chosen as the location to test this thesis. 

Initial designs create additional housing that offers different living opportunities, from single-family dwellings to accessory dwelling units. Each design enables residents to grow their own food via raised beds or vertical towers in an incorporated greenhouse. The ability to be self-sufficient and the visibility of food production will educate and inspire the community and promote continued progression toward sustainable living. Later phases could provide the neighborhood with varying scales of community spaces such as shared gardens, food markets, and education centers to attract and support community members. These latter phases will also have to address existing patterns of public transportation and correlated pedestrian paths for better connectivity.

This project received The Estopinal Group (TEG) Thesis Year Design Award.

The Transition to Co-Living: Finding the Missing Middle Housing in Langley Park, Montgomery County-MD  by Jenny Umana-Lemus, M.Arch ’23
Morgan State University, School of Architecture & Planning | Advisor: Carlos A. Reimers

Langley Park in Montgomery County, Maryland is located a few miles from the Washington DC region and is becoming more accessible with the planned opening of the Purple Line of the DC Metro system. It is a community composed of detached single-family housing and multi-family structures. 

The homeowners of single-family homes have been renting out rooms to individuals and families because of the shortage of Middle Housing (middle income) identified by the Montgomery County Planning Department in the region. This housing dynamic gives access to families who would otherwise not afford housing near transportation-accessible and commercial hotspots. 

This design proposal paves a path to homeownership for the Hispanic and Latino population at Langley Park. The chosen typology is cohousing in integrated single-family land, a trend that is already ongoing for denser multifamily housing and rowhouses. Co-housing will allow densifying areas of suburban land, while allowing homeowners to own an efficient unit and have access to larger communal spaces that families do and have always shared in the Latino culture in the USA, such as the kitchen and dining areas, or living rooms. 

In addition, the integration of green terraces will promote communal interaction among residents and provide safety for children to play in. Family members in Latino households often cook for their larger household and provide childcare and other services to friends and neighbors. In addition, Latinos in Langley Park are hard-working entrepreneurs supported by community members and organizations that will find space in rental retail areas added by the proposed housing typologies.

Instagram: @reimerscarlos

See you in the next installment of the Student Showcase!