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 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 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 XXII

In Part XXII of the Study Architecture Student Showcase, the featured student work addresses agricultural challenges including food deserts, climate change, and disruptions to agricultural production. These thesis projects propose designs that promote community engagement, learning, sustainability and systems to advance sustainable production practices. Browse these outstanding projects and share them with a colleague.

Urban Farmers Market Center by Allyza-Danica Valino, M.Arch ‘23
Lawrence Technological University | Advisors: Daniel Faoro, Eric Ward, Farris Habba & Kurt Neiswender

This project will aim to re-envision urban food systems by providing a programming framework that promotes community engagement and learning. Many urban cities suffer from “food deserts”, places where there is no access to fresh produce. Eastern Market breaks that rhythm in Detroit, and this building will aim to strengthen the market’s presence in the city through greater community engagement. The building will house programs that educate all generations and demographics on urban agricultural practices. Adults can be equipped with skilled agricultural / food science knowledge that may incubate businesses. Children can learn the basics of food preparation and sustainable agriculture. Nonprofits like Gleaners’ Cooking Matters will have spaces to promote their learning programs, which educate lower-income families and individuals on budgeting and healthy cooking. Local organizations that combat social issues such as the Charlevoix Village Association will also have spaces to meet. Ecologically, the building will follow LEED criteria in terms of solar energy collection, sustainable material usage, and promote the existing pedestrian-friendly environment that Eastern Market possesses.  

This project received the Dept. Chair Award Senior Year Capstone, and an Honorable Mention at the USGBC Detroit Student Competition

Agritecture: Integrated Interventions for Agronomy Production by Eixanette Laytung-Bardeguez, B. Arch ‘23
Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico | Advisor: Pedro A. Rosario-Torres

At present, agronomic production processes have acquired crucial importance for the development and success of organizations in various traditional and industrial sectors. However, it is undeniable that they also face a series of challenges and problems that affect their efficiency, quality, and profitability.

The proposal aims to recognize and address these problems in quantity, quality, and regulation losses in production phases under the recognition of reasons such as dependence on arable soils, exposure to climatic and biological factors of the soil, and management situations.

To overcome these difficulties, the Agritecture proposal implements strategies that promote the optimization of production processes by creating a fully regulated ecosystem in laboratory and greenhouse spaces through Agricultural Biotechnology. In this way, certain crop factors such as plant germination, survival against pests, and the different seasons of the year can be guaranteed. These agrobiotechnology methods would promote crop quality and maximize production to four times what would be achieved using traditional methods.

The project located in Lajas, Puerto Rico highlights a context recognized for its scenic and cultural value towards traditional crops. Complying with this site selection criterion, it was necessary to integrate and illustrate the transition of the different production methods in the area from their traditional planting, the combination of methods in an experimental station, and then, the industrial approach through agricultural biotechnology. The rest of the location strategies and the visitor’s route are based on framing the particularity and richness of the context. Conceptually, we can appreciate it on the site plan from the context grid with its planting lots. According to the context organization, the alignments were projected on the perimeter of the site. In it, we see the footprint of the building, three volumes or fragments located in the lots, and projected tours. Seeking to negotiate with the site instead of imposing itself with what is established and at the same time maintaining the vision of the traditional crops of the area.

This project was nominated for the Medal for Excellence in Design, Francisco Luis Porrata-Doria 

Instagram: @elaytung

PLANT: LA by Spencer A. Thornton, B.Arch ‘23
Cal Poly Pomona | Advisor: Mitchell De Jarnett


Spencer A. Thornton

The residents of East Los Angeles currently suffer from a dearth of access to fresh produce. The area has very few options for residents to access fresh, nutritious food. A 2023 study found one in three low income Angelenos experiences food insecurity.

Located at the intersection of Soto St. and Mission Rd., PLANT: LA supports the local community of East Los Angeles through the pairing of a highly lucrative cannabis cultivation business with a neighborhood food charity and urban farm. The profits from the cannabis grow act to subsidize the urban farming component of the project. 

STIIIZY Joint Efforts is the non-profit arm of this major cannabis company. Their Mission statement reads: “GIVE TO GROW – Community matters. It’s what brought us here and helped build our brand. It’s why giving back is just as important as growth, it’s who we are. STIIIZY continues to be one of the most engaged cannabis companies in the industry.”

In partnership with STIIIZY Joint Efforts, PLANT: LA combines three main programs:

  1. An Urban Farm administered by STIIIZY Joint Efforts, where residents and specialists collaborate to grow produce to feed up to 2,640 people. 
  2. Office Space (subsidized by STIIIZY) for related food injustice nonprofit organizations in Los Angeles.
  3. A Cannabis Cultivation and Distribution Facility administered by STIIIZY.

PLANT: LA does not house an on-site retail cannabis dispensary. 

Programmatically the project organization is broken into thirds, the terraced gardens, the cultivation facility, and the tower. Produce is grown in the terraced garden as well as the floors above and below the marijuana grow. It is then packed and either driven across the elevated bridge to the Food Pantry or distributed into Lincoln Heights via automated delivery systems. The cannabis grow is in the middle of the project. The marijuana is grown, dried, and trimmed in this portion of the facility. It is then distributed to STIIIZY dispensaries across LA County. 

The tower is comprised of offices for both STIIIZY Joint Efforts and the LA Food Bank, increasing the philanthropic outreach of PLANT: LA. 

Instagram: @tonofthorn@ seen_in_the_idc

Farm Housing by Miguel Serna, B.A. in Architecture ‘23
University of Illinois at Chicago | Advisor: Alexander Eisenschmidt

West Englewood is a neighborhood on the southwest side of Chicago with a population of 20,000 residents. Ranking fifth out of 77 neighborhoods in Chicago in terms of economic hardship, it is also known as a “food desert.” 51% of residents have been convicted (making it hard for them to find jobs) and 59% of families have reported food insecurities (with 6 out of 10 children living in impoverished conditions). This project, therefore, aims to offer housing as well as jobs for individuals and families in need. It occupies fourteen vacant blocks and is composed of a raised farm, with a public market and community programs below, and two different sets of apartments above. While all units are small, they spatially interlock across two floors, where the bottom floor makes space for a shared corridor between two neighbors, which in turn leads to the main corridor. Each renter is also given a strip of farmland that can be cultivated for consumption or, with the help of local organizations (such as I Grow Chicago and Growing Home), can be sold at the market below.

Instagram: @Eisenschmidt_a

The Dilemma in Detroit by Marina Iodice & Daniella Vlakancic, B.Arch. ‘23
New York Institute of Technology | Advisor: Evan Shieh

Our project was formed off of the challenge to reform underutilized highways in the U.S. into something greater. Given a plethora of highways to choose from, we chose Detroit’s I-375 for a multitude of reasons. While researching we discovered Detroit’s food insecurity struggles, as well as how the highway disconnected and plowed through thriving neighborhoods such as “Black Bottom” when it was created. With this in mind, we decided to create something that would not only reconnect and re-stitch the community back together but also help relieve food insecurity as well. 

We proposed to transform the I-375 into an opportunity to help relieve food insecurity by making it into a prototype test site for farming. We intend to accomplish this by meshing small-scale agriculture and large-scale community gardening. By doing this we hoped to help fill in the missing links in Detroit’s local food economy and also make the process more visible and integrated into the community. We accomplished this through applicable architecture such as a mile-long stretch of greenhouses, an Agrihood (Agricultural neighborhood), community gathering sites, farmers markets, restaurants, community gardens, and even traditional farmland. Our main focus being the Greenhouse and the Agrihood. 

Having greenhouses was crucial to have on our site since we are located in Michigan where there are harsh winters. The greenhouse encases urban farming such as hydroponics as well as community programs such as an amphitheater. The Agrihood was born when we were considering different ways to have the community live and interact not only with food but with each other. It’s a neighborhood that consists of terraced housing/gardens, as well as public amenities. The architecture promotes interaction by including centers to trade crops with neighbors and communal dining.

Instagram: @deesignsss, @marina.designs_, @ev07

Center for the Promotion of Fiesole Organic Olive Oil Farming by Emma Schnelle, Geneva Sinkula & Joseph Eichstaed, M.Arch and B.Arch. ‘23
The University of Texas at Austin | Advisor: Smilja Milovanovic-Bertram

The objective of this project is the design of the Center for the Promotion of Fiesole Organic Olive Oil Farming. Our client is the Association of Biological Organic District of Fiesole, a non-profit association, founded in 2018. It is composed of olive oil-producing farms, municipal administration, university professors, sectors of professionals and private citizens whose aim is the sustainable management of resources of the Fiesole area in the promotion, dissemination and protection of organic production methods in the agricultural field for the community. 

This project won the Design Excellence Award.

The Loop Lisboa: A Closed Loop Approach to Protecting Portugal from the Climate Crisis by Eryn Cooper, B.Arch ’23
New York Institute of Technology | Advisor: Farzana Gandhi

40% of Portugal’s arable land and pastures are increasingly affected by severe drought and rising temperatures. This has resulted in an increased dependence on food imports, which rely on transportation infrastructure that is often compromised due to wildfires, landslides, and floods. This project offers a solution for the city of Lisbon to locally grow crops that have decreased in production due to climate change.  

Situated between the Tagus River waterfront and an existing commuter rail line, the project takes advantage of the site conditions for access to the fishing industry as well as providing multiple means of transporting excess food to communities in need. Formally an oil refinery, this adaptive reuse project transforms the narrative of the site from what was once harmful to the environment to a system that aids communities affected by the climate crisis. 

The project operates as a closed loop, zero waste, climate resilient system comprised of food production, off-grid renewable energy, and public education. Each component of the master plan collects, stores, and utilizes renewable energy to produce food through processes including vertical farming, aquaponics, rooftop farming, and more. In times of crisis, components may operate on a decentralized system as well as adapt to grow several crops in order to supplement the production of decreased crop yields. 

Public paths bring visitors through the heart of production spaces and lead to market areas where visitors develop farm-to-table awareness, thus leaning further into Portugal’s cultural importance on fresh food sources. Acting as a public park as well as a food production system, the complex system of paths allows visitors to have a unique experience upon every visit. Each trail loop provides different insight into the project’s systems relating to energy, markets, transport, water collection, and food production. Through public education, transportation, and resilient food production, this thesis provides a holistic approach to remedying the effects of the climate crisis in Portugal.

This project received the Michael T. Berthold Energy Conservation Award.

Instagram: @eryncooper, @nyitarch

See you in the next installment of the Student Showcase!

2023 Study Architecture Student Showcase - Part XXI

Climate Change is an important issue that impacts architecture in many aspects. In Part XXI of the Study Architecture Student Showcase, the featured student work addresses climate change in innovative ways. Each project highlights how climate change impacts our present—or uses current trends to predict a possible future—while using design to present sustainable solutions. Take a look!

Suspended Culture: Agritecture for a Contemporary Climate by Vincenza Perla, M.Arch ‘23
University of Maryland | Advisors: Lindsey May, Brian Kelly & Jana Vandergoot

This thesis is about how architecture can shape the future of historic coastal agriculture. The site of this thesis sits along the banks of Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay. It shares the benefits of being located on one of the East Coast’s most prominent watersheds. Therefore, this thesis tackles this problem by acknowledging indefinite boundaries. We cannot keep operating in the same ways that got us here, so we must think ahead of the changing landscape, reimagine what the land and water can produce in terms of food, and build in a more sensitive and resilient manner. 

In summary, Suspended Culture acknowledges the immediacy of climate change and how it threatens coastal agricultural practices as we know it. It disrupts the cycle of displacement on the land by planning for the current and future realities through both landscape and building design. The land produces historic local food goods, invites people to interact with the landscape and agricultural practices, and acts as a memorial to the history of the site and climate. The buildings are specific and efficiently designed with attention to historic precedents, durability, thermal comfort, and with consideration for land, people, plants, and animals. All in all, the thesis acknowledges the violent history and future projections of the land to ensure the viability of vital cultural institutions like coastal agriculture and architecture by planning ahead of climate change and designing buildings that consider both the past and future in their design.

This project won the Director’s Award. 

Instagram: @studio.mayd, @buildinghopepod, @vincenzcube

Inhabiting the Uninhabitable by Tyler Renschen, B. Arch ‘23
Ball State University | Advisor: Miguel San Miguel, AIA

In the year 2022, the Earth was comprised of 149 million km2 of land and 361 million km2 of ocean. 19% [28 million km2] of this land was considered barren by desertification, or topographical complexity and 10% [15 million km2] made up the glaciers among the poles. 71% [104 million km2] was considered habitable land. At this point in Earth’s history, nearly half of the habitable land was used for agriculture, and even then, roughly 10% of the human population was undernourished.  

Now it is the year 2240 and the Earth is different. The glaciers have continued to melt, forcing the ocean tides to rise over a foot, swallowing up portions of once-ideal real estate. The human population has continued to grow in reaction to innovations in healthcare and the doubling of human life expectancy. This has dramatically increased the size of Earth’s cities and infrastructure, both densifying and sprawling outward across their surrounding landscapes tripling the amount of developed habitable land. The biggest change is the sand. Since the 21st century, every year, desertification has continued to turn 120,000 km2 of the Earth‘s surface dry, making once habitable land uninhabitable. We now live with sand at our doorsteps and a growing need for space. How does an architect interpret an environment and its role in shaping and scoping a project?

We have begun looking for answers in the sand.  

This investigation was inspired by the work of English architect Richard Horden (1944-2018) and his conceptualization of “Adaptive Architecture.”  Inhabiting the Uninhabitable tells the story of an architectural response to Earth’s continuous desertification in a future time known as The Exhaustive Era (2240) when all “inhabitable” land has been developed and the human race begins looking to territories currently deemed “uninhabitable.”  

The expanding Great Sand Dunes National Park into the San Luis Valley and Alamosa, Colorado was the project site.

The desert may hold the key to a new meaning of architecture and its imaginative possibilities.

This project received the TEG Prize, a two-stage process. A group of 20 finalists were selected by 5th-year students and faculty, followed by a final external review judged by a distinguished panel of designers and architects. 

Instagram: @renschentyler, @txtocajackalope13

Examining Indian Architecture – Design of the Eastern Waterfront Mumbai, India by Ashley Straub, B.Arch ‘23
University of Notre Dame | Advisor: Krupali Krusche

Pedagogical Goals of the Project:

1) Study the effects of rising water levels on the Western and Eastern Waterfront for the city of Mumbai and how to design new development with considerations of climate change.

2) Study population explosion in metropolitan cities and what urban and architectural

interventions can be best suited to create beneficial design solutions for the future urban growth of these cities.

3) Study the language of classical and vernacular of non-western architecture, in this case, Indian architecture specific to the Bora Bazaar and Ballard estate area to effectively allow translation of specific understanding of proportions, design and composition rules.

4) Study the urban factors of foreground and background buildings and how architecture and urban design both play a major role in design decisions.

5) Help students navigate the knowledge of reading architecture of a foreign, lesser-known culture to them. Knowing how to decipher the universality of building typology of unfamiliar places and its application in a variety of indigenous, vernacular, local, and regional settings in terms of their political, economic, social, ecological, and technological factors.

6) Getting practical knowledge to connect with real ongoing complex projects programs.

The Future of Highways: Introducing Localized Logistics Centers with High-Density Housing to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway by Emily O’Connell, B.Arch ‘23
New York Institute of Technology | Advisor: Evan Shieh

The Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE) of New York City is famously overused, seeing heavy traffic at almost all hours of the day. This expressway is also a significant link for the movement of goods through the region. Single-passenger and last-mile delivery vehicles make a significant contribution to the excessive congestion levels and are leading to infrastructure failure along the BQE, specifically in the Triple Cantilever section of Brooklyn Heights. This section has received a lot of attention and proposals for its repair, most of which focus solely on the maintenance of the expressway as we know it and do not explore approaches that address how we can lessen the usage of this expressway.

This project proposes an intervention along the Triple Cantilever that combines a localized logistics center with high-density housing for employees of the facility and transitory works of Brooklyn to reside. Localized logistics centers combat congestion by decreasing delivery distances for last-mile vehicles, and opens the door for on-foot or bicycle delivery options. Introducing co-living housing into these logistics centers is a unique opportunity to form a valuable work-to-home connection, as well as address the housing crisis that New York City is currently facing. 

Connection to community is seen throughout multiple scales of this project. Three variations of co-living units allow for a sense of community on an individual and private level. These units accumulate in a unique order on each floor and are accessed by bridges through the building’s central atrium circulation space. This allows the occupants to visualize and form connections with their neighbors, not limited to their own floor. The project’s form creates a courtyard space for both occupants of the building and members of Brooklyn to utilize for recreation, amenities, and community engagement. The logistics center is located on the bottom levels of this building, with ground access for trucking circulation from the expressway.

The intention of this project is to showcase the benefit of localized logistics hubs in combating congestion and to highlight their potential to be an asset on many portions of the BQE, but also highways that are faced with similar problems.

This project won the New York Institute of Technology, Faculty Thesis Award 

Instagram: @design.emily, @ev07

Napa Laboratory by Bo Su, Hao Wang & Chenshuo Zhang, MS in Architecture and Urban Design ‘23
University of California, Los Angeles | Advisors: Jeffrey Inaba and Valeria Ospital

Napa County grapples with climate change-induced challenges like wildfires and flooding. However, it offers opportunities to pilot novel hazard management solutions. Canal construction diverts floods and stores water for irrigation, while vineyards are reorganized as firebreaks to mitigate wildfires and trial innovative approaches. 

The primary objective is to utilize Napa County as an experimental site for investigating various aspects of environmental management, including soil mitigation, forest management, flood control, and wildfire prevention. 

The slope design considers local climate and hydrological factors such as rainfall, runoff, sunlight, and wind. It aims to create ideal conditions for grape growth by choosing the right angle to allow water absorption, minimize erosion, maximize sunlight exposure, and reduce wind damage. The angle of the slopes can be modified periodically, to experiment on how different conditions impact in crop development. 

Built on federal land leased to small vineyards, the project is a landscape that works as a mitigation barrier for wildfires and an experimentation field for crop weather adaptation. 

Instagram: @hao_wang97, @bo_suuuuuu, @desistance666, @jeffreyinaba, @valeriaospital, 

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

2023 Study Architecture Student Showcase - Part XVII

In Part XVII of the Study Architecture Student Showcase, we take a look at student projects that focus on recycling. As sustainability continues to be an area of importance in architecture and design, the student work below encourages viewers to reexamine what recycling can look like and how reusing materials can support communities across the world. From urban co-housing built with upcycled materials to improving living conditions in an Egyptian settlement that relies on recycling as a source of income, each project uses recycling to uplift spaces.

Transcendence by Reem Tawfik, B.Arch ‘23
American University in Dubai | Advisor: Abdellatif Qamhaieh, PhD

Transcendence is a project that deals with a famous informal settlement in Cairo, Egypt. Known as Zabbaleen district (or Trash City), the residents of the area collect trash from Cairo, store it, and ultimately recycle it manually and sell some of the recycled material to generate income. While a vital service for the overall city, the living conditions inside Trash City are poor. Transcendence attempts to improve the conditions by ‘Transcending’ above the area and providing its residents with a much-needed escape. 

This project won the American University in Dubai Senior Showcase Winner – 1st award, Faculty Choice Award, and Compasses Magazine Award.

Filum by Sean Meng & Poorva Joshi, M.S. AUD ‘23
UCLA AUD | Advisors: Laure Michelon and Guvenc Ozel

The project seeks to speculate a hybrid logistic in the fashion industry by creating a seamless and immersive experience assisted by XR technology.

When the physical environment is digitally enhanced, space becomes portals to a series of virtual interfaces that evoke new types of engagements and connections.

Instagram: @s___ean, @poorva__joshi_, @laure_michelon, @guvencozel

Growing Community: A Planet Positive Solution to Housing by Grady Foster, Will Flanagan & Jacob Schmitz, M.Arch ‘23
University of Washington | Advisor: Rob Pena

Mission: Create an intergenerational co-housing community that fosters social connections through urban agriculture, and is designed for disassembly through modular construction.

This proposal explores a new urban co-housing typology that allows its residents to build relationships on the foundation of communal meals, artistic exploration, and urban agriculture education as means to combat loneliness and isolation, integrate Housing First residents, and create a shared sense of ‘urban belonging.’ It will be built using upcycled materials in a modular kit-of-parts that reduces carbon emissions before, during, and after construction and incorporates sustainable systems, helping to create more housing while staying within the Planetary Boundaries.

The design relies on a 14 square meter module that is repeated in various patterns to create units ranging from studios to three-bedroom apartments. The grid column informs the overall massing of the design and is scaled up to accommodate commercial aeroponic farming production and amenity spaces that host multiple programs.


Communal Living – Social Focus

Modular Construction – Economic Focus Housing First – Social Focus

Connection to Nature – Planetary Focus Individual Carbon Allowance – Planetary Focus

Instagram: @gfos11, @_jschmitz_, @mohler.rick

PLASTIblock by Cristian Berrio, B.Arch ‘23
New York Institute of Technology SoAD | Advisor: Farzana Gandhi

In a world of abundant plastic, it would only make sense to develop building technologies where we can recycle and reuse this abundant resource into a viable building material. PLASTIBlock does just this, allowing its users to create habitable and long-lasting structures, with unlimited building applications. Its users can create anything from a simple seat to commercial applications like a school. As the blocks are made from recycled plastic, their economic value can work to help developing and unsettled communities in need around the world.

PLASTIBlock will allow developing communities to create viable permanent and/or temporary structures to help alleviate one of the many problems many communities around the world are facing: housing. PLASTIBlock allows users to build along coexisting building technologies such as concrete and tensioning systems like rebar and cables to create strong tangible structures. PLASTIBlock has been developed with Lego-like inspirations allowing its users to assemble and disassemble the interlocking blocks, giving each individual block multiple lifetime applications. Along this, PLASTIBlock technologies can be used as both the building material and formwork material, giving each block multiple uses and reducing the output waste material that comes with construction.

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

2023 Study Architecture Student Showcase - Part VI

We are back for installment VI of the Study Architecture Student Showcase! As we delve into this installment, our focus turns towards projects that stand as beacons of sustainability. Each showcased endeavor exemplifies a commitment to thoughtful design, incorporating eco-conscious elements that not only enhance the aesthetic appeal but also contribute to a harmonious coexistence with the environment.

Imbalance, Prospect NOLA by Andreea Dan, B.Arch ’23
Tulane University | Advisor: Ruben Garcia-Rubio

The proposal focuses on the unification of spaces sectionally, both within the proposal, and with the context of the site the proposal is on. The process for developing the concept began with analysis of the surrounding site, where several public and tourist destinations are located. It was then determined that the proposal would need to unite all these entities in some spatial way. The parti was developed through the massing of a five-level cube in the allowable construction zone. An interior courtyard cut-out was then created. From here, the ground floor was divided into separate volumes with exterior space for fluid movement of the public. The upper floors were then each shifted, offset, and extended purposefully depending on site context in order to create meaningful sectional relationships. This overall massing became the central concept that was then further developed around this concept of multi-level connections. From here, different aspects were then decided upon — environmental considerations were made in the prioritizing of cross ventilation and development of green and blue roofing wherever possible, due to the large abundance of exterior terrace space. Cantilevers and facade elements were utilized in order to allow sun shading from summer sun, which is ideal in the climate conditions. The proposal’s structure was also constantly developed and adjusted in order to allow for extreme cantilevers on each floor, but still keep the structure as light as possible. The proposal consists firstly of a central ring of steel bays that runs through each floor. Then, trusses are attached to this central ring when large cantilevers are present. Then, the beams are extended even further for different lengths of cantilevers. Finally, cables are introduced on certain floors to hang the floor slabs below and allow for a lighter structure. As far as programmatic and circulatory elements go, the proposal moves from more public to more private as levels increase from the ground floor up, and circulation is always central around the interior courtyard of each floor and back to the core elements in either corner of the proposal. As seen on each floor plan, core elements are attached to the egress stair in a linear rectangle in either accessible corner of the project. Apart from the ground level, each plan is similar in layout with the placement of open office spaces both on the interior and the exterior. Finally, the facade of the proposal becomes clear in the project’s elevations, where it can be seen that the entirety of the upper levels have a double-layer facade. The inner layer is composed of double-paned glass that is operable in certain areas. The outer layer is made up by mechanically operable sun-shading louvers that are constructed of copper mesh. These louvers run from floor to ceiling and can be rotated a full 180 degrees to allow for the optimal amount of sun exposure to the interior space.

This project was selected as one the 2023 Metropolis Future100.

Instagram: @rubgarrub

Urban Infill Gallery, Studio, Residence by Irvin Amezola, AAS (Pre-Architecture) ‘23
College of DuPage | Advisor: Mark Pearson

PROGRAM STATEMENT: Located in the River North Gallery District in Chicago, IL, this project challenges students to design a community arts center that will act as a creative hub and arts incubator for the assigned site. The building contains galleries, studio workspace, and a small residential unit to accommodate visiting artists in residence. Successful projects should be sustainable and responsive to the site, context, and natural environment. Students are asked to draw inspiration from selected works of art that are researched at the beginning of the semester. These works of art then become part of the permanent gallery collection for the project. This project challenges students to design in section and consider the modulation of natural daylight as fundamental criteria for the project. Students are also asked to consider programmatic organization, circulation, structure, materiality, and detail. Successful projects are expected to develop innovative design solutions based on a clear design concept.

DESIGN CONCEPT: Inspired by the artwork “Interrelations of Volumes from the Ellipsoid” by Georges Vantongerlo, this project is a cubic composition of overlapping volumes. The cubic forms create spaces and terraces for visitors to appreciate the beauty of the artwork and the city. On the interior these overlapping spaces allow for public spaces to intertwine and be viewed from above and below, creating curiosity for visitors. The project also includes a vertical center atrium that channels natural daylight into the middle of the building, allowing each space to receive light from above.

Instagram: @irvinamezola, @ma_pearson75, @cod_architecture

Portland Museum of Art Expansion and Free Street Art District by Zack Blizard, B.Arch “23
University of Oregon | Advisor: James Tice

This thesis level architectural studio at the University of Oregon was based on an international architectural competition sponsored by the Portland Museum of Art, Portland, Maine for the expansion of its landmark museum designed in 1982 by Harry Cobb of I.M. Pei & Partners. The studio accepted the basic parameters and goals of the competition brief of 2022 for expanded galleries, services, and community space to enhance and unify the existing campus of historic structures and landscape gardens. In addition, students were challenged to expand the program and the site beyond that required by the competition to engage the unique urban setting of the museum in the historic center of city on Congress Square and Free Street. The design challenge, then, was to expand the PMA building and campus and to create an urban art center for the entire city of Portland, enhancing its unique physical and cultural contexts.

The studio focused on urban design, sustainability, community engagement, and use of local materials. The goal was to honor the existing PMA and its unique setting in the city and expand its program and facilities for the larger community.

The design by Zack Blizard, shown here, met these challenges by complementing the existing museum with expanded day-lit galleries and extensive community gardens. These elements are integrated as a series of interconnecting interior and ‘outdoor rooms’ for sculpture and summer performances All exterior spaces, including sunken gardens, are accessible through carefully designed ramps and elevators. The structure is primarily mass timber above the ground level faced with the traditional water-struck brick, a local material of which a large part of the 19th century city was comprised. The existing galleries are expanded on an upper-level gallery designed to respond to solar considerations and take advantage of natural daylighting. Additional community spaces, including classrooms for the nearby Maine College of Art and Design were provided along Free Street to the north along with public shops and restaurant making Free Street and Congress Square and Market a creative hub for the city’s new art center and PMA expansion.

About Time: Redressing the Runway by Triciajane Asuncion, B.Arch ‘23
University of Illinois at Houston  | Advisors: Sheryl Tucker de Vazquez, Ophelia Mantz, & Dr. Leslie Vollrath

About Time: Redressing the Runway breaks down the fourth wall between consumption culture and the global fashion supply chain. Sited in the Brera courtyard arches of Milan, Italy, semi-transparent fabric draped as catenary arches as a runway set design transforms throughout the show to communicate flow, movement, excess, contamination, and suffocation associated with the fashion industry. Generally used as a construction element in fashion, the fabric becomes redefined in the runway show to expose the underbelly of the problematic industry. Created for the intention of desire and spectacle, runway shows encourage consumption and even overconsumption, employing allure to conceal the ugly reality of the industry. The terms, “back of house” and “front of house” are used in this investigation to indicate the fashion production process the everyday consumer does not see, and the point of sale retail environment that the consumer experiences, respectively. The show is divided into three acts to immerse the audience in the fashion production process in its entirety to create awareness of the backstage conditions the everyday consumer doesn’t see. Walter Benjamin’s The Arcades Project and Guy Debord’s The Society of the Spectacle offers philosophical insight on consumption and commentary on the arch typology as a symbol of the fetishization of commodified goods and experiences. Through draping, stretching, and layering, the fabric is manipulated in a number of ways throughout the runway show, which is transformed with and by a choreography that mirrors the bodily labor of workers. The transformation of fabric explores the material’s spatial and temporal possibilities in the runway, creating moments of tension, movement, and contradiction. Through presenting such issues in a theatrical format that reveals the “back of house” underbelly through a “front of house” runway presentation, the hope is to propose alternative solutions for a more sustainable and ethical practice.

This project won the 2023 Outstanding Thesis Award.

Instagram:@tricxajane, @SherylVazquezarchitecture

Portland Museum of Art Expansion by Brena Daly, B.Arch ‘23
University of Oregon  | Advisors: James Tice

This thesis-level architectural studio at the University of Oregon was based on an international architectural competition sponsored by the Portland Museum of Art, Portland, Maine for the expansion of its landmark museum designed in 1982 by Harry Cobb of I.M. Pei & Partners. The studio accepted the basic parameters and goals of the competition brief of 2022 for expanded galleries, services, and community space to enhance and unify the existing campus of historic structures and landscape gardens. In addition, students were challenged to expand the program and the site beyond that required by the competition to include the entire city block on which the museum is located. The idea is to engage the unique urban setting of the museum in the historic center of the city on Congress Square and Free Street. The design challenge, then, was to expand the PMA building and campus and to create an urban art center for the entire city of Portland, enhancing its unique physical and cultural context. The studio focused on urban design, sustainability, community engagement, and use of local materials. The goal was to honor the existing PMA and its context in the city and expand its program and facilities for the larger community. The design by Brena Daly, shown here, met these challenges by expanding the existing museum with a north-south public arcade that connects with neighboring streets and major program elements. Beyond new galleries for the museum, the project envisions a public garden, performance hall, community ‘maker space’, and community classrooms. The facade was designed to complement Cobb’s arcuated facade of brick, using similar proportions and regulating lines employing local terra cotta. The structure features mass timber, keying into native materials of the region. A roof top restaurant and sculpture terrace overlook the harbor to the south connecting visually and symbolically to the Portland’s historic waterfront.

See you soon for the next series of the Student Showcase!

2023 Study Architecture Student Showcase - Part I

Welcome back to the Study Architecture Student Showcase fall series!

We put out a call over the summer for student work and received a record number of submissions – thank you to everyone who participated. With the Fall semester in full gear, we are excited to share the most outstanding projects with you over the next few months. To give you an insight into what it is like to study architecture, we will take a closer look at student thesis and capstone work from 2023.

Throughout the Student Showcase series, we will feature work from recent graduates of ACSA member schools from across the globe. These projects will highlight an array of topics and explorations, ranging from building designs focused on women empowerment or climate change to research on biomaterials and much more. Tune in every week for a new installment focused on a specific topic.

This week we take a look at projects that are aimed at combatting the issue of flooding, which we are seeing rise in frequency across the globe. In the last few weeks alone, we have seen extreme examples of just how damaging floods can be. The work below focus on how we can improve the flood protection process.

Urban Flooding Reuse for Addis Ababa (Ethopia) by Michael Clifton, B.Arch ’23
Tulane University | Advisor: Ruben Garcia-Rubio

The Urban Flooding Reuse Proposal is intended to create a way for residents of the river meander to live with and reuse flood water for their own benefit. This is a response to a high population of Addis Ababa’s (Ethiopia) residents living in highly vulnerable areas to flooding and a high amount of housing being built from weaker materials like mud and wood. These two problems that exist in the city lead to dangerous living conditions with flooding in a city that experiences plenty of rain and flooding yearly—and is projected to see much more in the future due to climate change.

The proposal tackles other problems as well such as cleaning polluted water and creating public space in the city, while restructuring at-risk housing. The city has problems with pollution due to poor drainage and sewerage systems, and the amount of green space is far below the World Health Organization standard.
The proposal uses a system of channels that serve as pathways for water to travel from parcel to parcel while also being slow mobility pathways for pedestrians. The system for flow of water includes inputs from the Upper Kebena River, and introduces three different types of parcels for different treatment of water. The first being retention pools which hold water at the first stop in the system. The retention pools also include some natural vegetation for slight cleaning at this point. The second parcels are cleaning parcels, which have more natural vegetation and help clean water through the use of bioswales. The third type of parcels are for reuse of water and mostly come in the form of urban agriculture while also providing spaces for recreation and leisure throughout the river meander. The reuse parcels are spaces that create a public environment for pedestrians and can help create jobs through farming. The new housing buildings can have shops on the ground floor as well to help keep the informal economy alive in this area. Runoff water from the city is cleaned through the use of underground water deposits which will help with solid waste filtration and chemical cleaning before water from the streets enters the system. The proposal also includes bridges and ramps to help pedestrians cross the river and more extreme terrain on the north side of the river meander, creating a better connection from the city to the river.

This project was selected by the Oslo Triennale.

Instagram: @rubgarrub

Creative Triggering by Christine Chen, Meichen Duan, Ji Hyun Hwang, Jing Kang, Hong Ke, Wanshan Li, Zhe Li, Xinru Liu, Hoi Yau Lo, Ankita Mallick, Weixuan Wang, Ruijie Zhang, Wenhao Zhang, M. Arch ’23
University of Melbourne | Advisor: Justyna Karakiewicz & Theo Blankley

This studio takes the site of Australia’s largest major urban regeneration project – located at Melbourne, Fishermans Bend – which is over 480 hectares of land directly adjacent to the CBD. We propose the future of the precinct in light of ecological, environmental, structural and social changes across staged developments into the next century.

The Fishermans Bend precinct has its challenges. Much of it is threatened by flooding. A significant portion of the land is heavily contaminated by previous industrial users. We have learned that the quick fixes we often employ are based on misinterpreting symptoms for causes as we try to address current problems. We can observe that our quick interventions distract us from doing the deeper work needed that might lead to a better world for the planet, for all species and the environment, rather than just for the electorate.

By 2025, the Stage 1 will be completed and will feature large scale facilities for advanced manufacturing, fabrication, testing and prototyping with large scale collaborators such as the University of Melbourne, Boeing, Tesla, and others. By 2050, the Victorian Government proposes there will be 80,000 residents and employment for up to 80,000 people. Looking forward, we know that by 2100, much of Fishermans Bend could be under water, even under the most moderate predictions for sea level rises. We know that most of the surface soil is toxic. This combination of toxic land and flooding does not suggest that this is suitable place to live.

Combining Slow, Medium and Fast approaches, the propositions are illustrated by small, medium and large projects. These include two urban infrastructure strategies, and eight architectural projects.The works shown here illustrates an incremental development, with Stage 1 in 2025-2030, Stage 2 in 2030-2050, and Stage 3 in 2050-2100. Students worked collaboratively and developed programs and outcomes that interconnected and linked with each other – as evidenced in the final panels showing relationships between proposals and how one project may ‘trigger’ another.

Instagram: @msdsocial,, @theoblankley, @meichend_, @lohoiyau, @ankitamallick,

BQE Hydrology Hub by Emma Mangels, B.Arch ’23
New York Institute of Technology | Advisor: Evan Shieh

The re-imagination of the Gowanus Canal aims to address the environmental and hydrological issues facing the Gowanus Canal at the local scale and the surrounding neighborhoods of Brooklyn at the borough scale. The Gowanus Canal and the surrounding neighborhood of Red Hook has been a highly-contested area due to the status of the waterway being declared a superfund site. As well as flooding occurring on the shoreline and also in-land which can be traced back to the out-dated combined sewer outflow system or CSO feeding into the canal.

To address this issue, a “Hydrology Hub” will be created at the crossing of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway (BQE) at the local scale to clean water in an efficient manner and reduce in-land flooding as well as making the water filtration process visible to the community. The hub will allow for people to follow the newly designed circular system of water filtration that uses both natural and man-made processes. The filtration circulation will bring the person down to the canal level where a walkable park will take over the current hard-edge of the canal. In order to protect the new in-land system, the borough scale will include the implementation of a soft shoreline to slow erosion and provide habitats for flora and fauna, creating a “kit of parts” to foster an environmentally resilient community while also placing an emphasis on circular systems of water.

Instagram: @mangels.arch, @ev07

Island Revitalization by Kelly Zheng, B.Arch ’23
New York Institute of Technology | Advisor: Farzana Gandhi

Coney Island is a peninsula that sits in the southern part of New York City. The site is a smaller scale of NYC that demonstrates the environmental problems that the city faces. It is an area full of residential structures and commercial businesses.

Coney Island suffers from bad air quality, urban heat, flooding, and poor water management, causing bad living quality and health risks. These issues should not be understood and treated separately. They are all part of a reciprocal ecosystem where one problem typically worsens another.

It is essential to develop a holistic and comprehensive integrated solution that makes Coney Island more livable today and far into the future. The proposal is inspired by such solutions found around the world and at multiple scales from masterplan to kiosks.

Coney Island was originally a collection of islands and shifting sand, with inlets connecting the islands during low tide periods. In the late 1700s, the sand-shifting movements closed the inlets, so the residents filled in the space and connected the islands into one whole island. Coney Island Creek was the water body that separated Coney Island from the mainland. Over time, the island expanded due to natural and manmade activities such as sand shifting or landfilling.

The proposal reintroduces the creek, forming additional routes for water flow. Additional canals will be integrated, dividing the island into 3 mini-islands. This development isolates the island’s midsection, the portion that will be most likely affected by flooding. The isolation prevents water overflow from entering the surrounding inland areas. The middle mini-island will be redeveloped as an amusement island, and be designed as a sponge park to absorb flooding or overflowing water.

Recreational areas and water management systems are incorporated into the islands, rapidly expanding the amount of green and blue to decrease the environmental risks. Real-time visual notifications and warning systems are integrated into the streets, using lights, sounds, and kiosks to educate people about environmental factors and give alerts for safety threats. The strategies and real-time data systems work together to build a stronger, low-vulnerable community for citizens and visitors.

Instagram: @kellyzhangarch

Replacement by Zoe Holiday, B.Arts ’23
Savannah College of Art and Design | Advisor: Gordon Nicholson

Replacement is a Community Center located in Wilmington Island, GA. The site is nestled between an elementary school, a fire station, and two churches. A walking path alongside a main road accessing the site encourages pedestrian and vehicular engagement. The proposed community center – Replacement – will do just that by superimposing a new structure of CMU while maintaining the existing concrete structure. The main concrete columns will be inverted to create void where there was once a solid. The exterior faces of the new structure take shape from the radii of the trees defining the current landscape.

The building’s approach to water was integral to the form of the roof and interior courtyard. The two form a connected system of water collection through phytoremediation, water retention, and overflow channels that are capable of managing storm water and flooding. Replacement aims to become a shelter and everyday hub for the Wilmington Island community.

Water Wise Wrapper by Debdeep Dam, M.Arch ’23
University of Southern California | Advisor: Lisa Little

California and the world at large have been facing tumultuous weather patterns. Respite from long-term drought comes in the form of devastating floods.

Throughout history, humans have had a symbiotic relationship with natural sources of water; often carrying both cultural and spiritual significance. Unfortunately, modern city-making has been oriented toward over-engineered city planning because modern cities have had access to uncontested water resources without regard to ecosystems or context. The modern city treats stormwater as a nuisance; something to be drained away out of sight even though water scarcity has become so real an issue that architectural systems that try to mitigate this by having systems in place for water conservation, collection, cleaning, and reuse should be adopted by all buildings.

With the increasing commodification of clean potable water and gross exploitation of this natural resource, it has become imperative to explore options for democratically using, storing, and distributing this natural resource.

“Water-Wise Wrapper attempts to bring this crucial subject to the forefront of urban living while advocating for a system that can leverage the vast vertical landscapes of the modern city and act like a sponge: absorbing or releasing water when needed and releasing it when required. This thesis proposes a system that physically stores and releases water while also acting as a visual representation of the scarcity of this vital resource.

This project won the USC Master of Architecture Innovation in Directed Design Research Award. In recognition of the most outstanding graduate final degree project illustrating technological innovation and advancement.

Instagram: @debdeepdam, @lisa_k_little

Hydro-Urbanism: A Walkable, Coastal Neighborhood Designed to Withstand Flooding and Use Water as A Design Asset by Zachary Faza, M.Arch ’23
Florida Agricultural And Mechancial University | Advisor: Kyle Spence

Located on the low-lying, sandy peninsula of Pinellas County, St. Petersburg, Florida, is a coastal city that has much at risk from hurricanes and heavy rainfall events. No Florida county has more buildings and more value at risk in Category 1 storms.

When a severe storm impacts a coastal city, high winds build up and push the water from the sea over the land. This is called storm surge, and it can cause devastating damage like that seen during 2022 Category 4 Hurricane Ian impacting this region of the State.

Zachary’s design-research investigative thesis presents research on existing case studies of aesthetically pleasing, multi-beneficial flood infrastructure that benefits society beyond flood control. This project applied intuitive thought to produce a design proposal for a walkable, 40-acre master-planned development that integrates flood-adaption infrastructure as aesthetic and recreational features.

The proposed master planned development orients around a central pond serving as a water retention feature and encloses two public park islands. This pond connects to a site-wide network of waterways and bioswales (naturally filtering landscape features) designed to absorb, filter, and store stormwater runoff from neighborhood roads.

Around the pond are several distinct built areas, each with latent design exploration. The primary regions built around the pond include a Canal-Front residential area that has elevated structures that looks inwards onto tree-lined canal parks, the Waterside Shops mixed-use shopping center with a grocery store, waterfront commercial spaces, and apartments, and the public Forest Park that spans two islands within the central pond and forms the spine of the development’s pedestrian and bicycle circulation network.

Zack’s project is a design exercise demonstrating that flood adaptation measures can be an aesthetically pleasing part of a holistic urban design solution that mitigates damage from floods and storms and creates vibrant, profitable commercial, public, and residential areas.

This project won the FAMU Three-Minute Thesis First-Place Award

Come back next week for Part II!

Study Architecture Student Showcase - Part VIII

Part Eight of the Student Showcase series this week focuses on student work that brings to light different aspects of sustainability. The concept of reuse is at the core of being sustainable. Each of these projects discusses a unique angle of what it means to be sustainable in both space and matter. Whether it is a ceramics studio in Chicago or green spaces in Los Angeles and Beirut, each of these projects recognize the importance of stewardship in architecture.

For recaps on prior installments, check out Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI and Part VII.

Nan/nang/: Earth and Us by Zahra Sharifi, M.Arch ’22
University of Manitoba | Advisor: Lisa Landrum

My thesis is focused on the potential of using and re-using local soil and modernized primitive vernacular strategies. I grew up and was educated in the historical city of Yazd, located in the largest desert of Iran, famous for its integrated earth urban fabric and climate adaptive structures. My interest in vernacular methodologies using soil became a starting point for questioning the lack of commitment towards earth construction in cold climates. As abundant and pliable materials, soil and mud are sustainable resources that have been used in construction for thousands of years, yet they have been replaced by harmful substances. By consuming all our natural energy resources, we will eventually reach a stage where manipulating and managing soil will become one of the leading global building strategies, and I believe inherited knowledge of traditional teachings is a starting point for all earth-based research.Focusing on cold climates originated from my experience of living in Winnipeg and the city’s lack of earth awareness. Even though the area endures heavy winter snow, which requires thick waterproofing, insulation, and durable building envelope systems, there is a historical and geological connection between the city and mud. The muddy land of Alexander Docks next to Red river in central Winnipeg, intrigued me to think about the re-use of deposited mud from the river for earth construction. I am proposing an adaptive rejuvenation of the old warehouse adjacent to the docks, by mimicking the natural qualities of mud and adding new insulated exterior earth walls inspired by my own research, previous earth strategies conducted in Manitoba such as Sod houses and traditional Persian earth structures such as Karbandi. The building will act as an earth reconnection center in the heart of downtown inviting the locals and international researchers to engage in earthly thinking.The simplicity of the construction process is in direct relation to the simplicity of the structure which allows us to implement local common labor and on-site preparation. Low-tech earth strategies provide the opportunity for community participation in annual spring maintenance for example reapplying mud plaster on earth walls. By considering the excavated site soil and deposited mud from the river as the main building material ( processed and separated into silt, clay and sand) and reusing existing building waste such as bricks, concrete and steel for reinforcement, there is a possibility of neutral carbon construction.

Instagram: @z.sharifi74, @faumanitoba, @lisalandrum.arch

Terra Studios: A Center for Ceramics Production and Residency in Chicago, Illinois by Faith Primozic, B.Arch ’22
University of Notre Dame | Advisor: Sean Patrick Nohelty, AIA

The city of Chicago has a rich history of ceramics as an art and industry that remains a core part of its architectural identity. Much of this industry existed along the northern branch of the Chicago River where factories produced ceramic building materials for some of the city’s most renowned architects. As this industry declined with the advent of more modern building materials and methods in the early part of the 20th century, the city lost both part of its intricate fabric as well as a part of its unique identity. Through my undergraduate thesis project, I imagine how a pair of buildings to serve craftspeople situated within an urban redevelopment along the north branch of the Chicago River can begin to reestablish a connection between the city’s architecture and its people.

The design for these buildings embodies the idea that architecture should reflect both the occupants that it serves and the society that it inhabits. Structures for artisans and craftspeople who contribute creatively and constructively to our society must therefore be beautiful and enduring reflections of their work — living representations of how both tradition and innovation in their craft enhances the sustainability and livability of the built world. Intertwined with a city’s unique history, this architectural narrative creates a sense of place and allows a city to grow and improve without losing touch with its identity

The proposed buildings exist in an entirely permeable arrangement that allows a pedestrian to pass freely through a new passage under the existing elevated railroad tracks all the way to the river’s edge. The larger of the two proposed buildings serves as a center for ceramics production and includes a large studio, kiln room, research center, gallery, and ballroom. The smaller building is intended as an artists’ residence and shop building, adding a component of living and working to the production of the ceramics. Together, they embody a celebration of the craft of ceramics, from the brick and clay block that support and insulate the walls to the porcelain tile and terracotta relief that lend to its character and beauty.

Instagram: @faith.primozic

Altra Volta: A Neighborhood Hub for the Self-Sufficient City by Samuel Owen, B.Arch ’22
University of Arizona | Advisor: Elena Cánovas

The following capstone project is a community co-op focused on self-sufficiency, in which members grow their own food and fabricate their own products to support themselves and to sell to the community. All waste produced on-site is recycled – solid waste is separated by material to be reused, repurposed, or recycled, and liquid / food waste is sent to an anaerobic digestor to produce energy and fertilizer for an on-site farm network.

This co-op is located in the Provençals del Poblenou neighborhood of Barcelona, the former epicenter of Barcelona’s Industrial Revolution. This area has a long history of industrial co-ops where members could share equipment for collective benefit. Today, the city is trying to develop the neighborhood into a “Technological Innovation District” known as 22@. Unfortunately, most construction following this initiative has done little more than gentrify the community and destroy its historic factory remains.

As an alternative to the aggressive development practices of 22@, this project embraces Provençals’ history and traditions, proposing a return to a circular economy model where daily food and material needs are handled through local collaborative effort, and waste from any one resource flow becomes the raw input for another. Through education, the community is empowered to participate in all steps of the production cycle.

“Altra Volta” – a Catalan phrase meaning both “to have another go” and “another vault” – is a repurposing of Poblenou’s endangered industrial fabric. It consists of two parts – the conversion of still-standing warehouses (into workshops, kitchens, a daycare, cooperative housing, and waste-processing facilities), and the reuse of historic factory foundations for the central marketplace.

On a broad scale, the project utilizes the empty land between blocks to create a “passeig nou” (new promenade) where the community can stroll and relax beneath orchard groves and observe the self-sufficient ecosystem all around them.

Instagram: @samowenarc, @canovas_elena

The Fold by Mark Davis and Ethan Ratliff, BSArch ’22
University of Maryland | Advisor: Michael Ezban

The Fold is a new Resiliency Hub for College Park, Maryland, that focuses on passive strategies to create ventilation and shading that ultimately improves the user’s experience within the building. To achieve these systems, the building is wrapped in a multifunctional and adaptive skin that is mounted to the outer layer of the building. This skin is perforated metal, creating shade and also bending in such a way to allow for better airflow.

Not only does this skin function sustainably, but it can also be adjusted to allow for better views to a lively urban corner of the city. The panels can also shift to allow for daylighting into major public spaces. The building is intended to entice the people of College Park, and show them what creative and sustainable building strategies could look like.

Green Air Rights by Myriam Abou Adal, B.Arch ’22
American University of Beirut | Advisor: Makram Al Kadi

Beirut is overcrowded, yet there is a large number of abandoned buildings and vacant apartments; Beirut is living a social and economic collapse; Beirut suffers from an absence of green and public spaces.

How to best activate the urban vacancies to create a network of multi-scalar micro-economies and green spaces?

I translated my readings of existing literature and case studies into my own glossary of vacancy and response typologies. I then started my fieldwork with rapid appraisal through on the ground measurements, interviews with residents to understand their needs, and immersion in the life and culture of the neighborhood I chose.

I am proposing a network of multi-scalar interventions that relies on a strategy of micro-economies centered around the communal life of the many users I met, while respecting nature and maximizing green spaces. I identified a variety of vacancies typologies and revived them favoring adaptive reuse, parasitic architecture, and placemaking. I translated the building code into a green building code to optimize the allowed buildable area and the gabarit, that guided my massing and choice of materials.

The ground floor vacancies are connected to create large and inviting lobbies that act as a continuation of the public space to drive the community in. The upper floor vacancies and abandoned buildings are treated using adaptive reuse methods and bridged to connect educational, cultural, entertainment, and service programs. On the roofs, A-frame steel structures host the necessary infrastructure for urban farming, water harvesting, and energy production.

This project may be viewed as a pilot intervention as part of a bigger strategy to green the city of Beirut, to introduce a culture of self-sustainability.

Instagram: @myriamabouadal, @ard_aub

Dust To Dust: Embracing Entropy Through Organic Building Materials by Ryan Muir, M.Arch ’22
University of Maryland | Advisor: Michael Ezban

Architecture has had a complicated relationship with this agent of time. Some modernists sought to “overcome” time by turning buildings into machines. And today we’re very much concerned with keeping up with the times. Through commercialism, buildings became commodities or machines for profit. Throughout this time, innovators have striven to and succeeded in inventing building materials that are inert or permanent. However, the problem is that our society doesn’t treat buildings as permanent. They go out of style or can’t keep up with our changing needs. This has bred a practice of planned obsolescence that may reflect the dynamic, living organism of society, but fails to see buildings themselves as organisms. Perhaps the issue is with identifying our buildings as machines, building them for longevity and durability while simultaneously attributing to them an inherent disposability.

Per Leon Krier’s diagram “Civitas”, a city is made up of two parts: res publica and res economica. Res publica is made up of monuments and monumental buildings. Res economica is made up of the streets and the auxiliary buildings. In other words, res publica represents the permanent, consistent nature of a city, while res economica is impermanent, subject to change and adapt to the needs of the city. Each part of the city represents a different opportunity to reshape our view of buildings. Res publica should be built to last and have its effect on the city for generations, slowly and subtly acquiring a patina that conveys wisdom and experience. On the other hand, Res economica could be constructed to be deconstructed, to have change affected on it, to evolve.

This thesis set out to test architecture’s ability to embrace the process of entropy through organic materials and explore these methods at three scales within the “res-economica” of Washington, DC. My approach to these different scales was to determine the viable materials, design each wall section assembly, and design the exterior and interior expression of these materials at the human scale. Then I dove into greater detail, beginning with the smallest scale as the furthest potential adoption of this theory.

Trades Tower: an Ode to Service Space by Daniel Vazquez, B.Arch ’22
Cal Poly Pomona | Advisor: Robert Alexander

Is architecture inextricably linked to its function? Can a building’s function vary, not just from one building to the next, but from person to person? In this project architecture’s role becomes one of user relevancy and contextual activation, things that are in constant flux on a college campus. The question then becomes: Can you make a building re-usable? Can you design a project that is in flux? Making a lliminal space where the public and private functions blur and where the project provides spaces to use that are activated instinctually. The formal program then becomes a catalyst and a framework that activates but does not dictate use. The project thus strays away from a “totalization,” opting instead to embrace and broadcast the variability of daily life.

As the city of Los Angeles continues to densify, issues such as public space and identity become increasingly urgent. Los Angeles Trade-Tech College, located directly south of the Santa Monica freeway (I-10) on Flower St. and Washington Blvd., exemplifies this dilemma as it expands and attempts to carve a place amongst the South LA urban fabric. Here, a disparate set of buildings create a hard perimeter around the college, with all buildings locked to the same datum rendering the campus invisible to the public. Despite opportunities such as proximity to the A-Line train station and direct visibility from the 10 freeway, a sense of destination is squandered by anti-pedestrian access and lack of identifiable elements. The character of LATTC and the education it provides are not advertised or readily legible.

Next installment coming soon!