2023 Study Architecture Student Showcase - Part XXXIII

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

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

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

Instagram: @sophiezurhaar, @arqwave

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

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

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

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

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

Instagram: @rubgarrub

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

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

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

Instagram: @rubgarrub

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

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

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

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

Instagram: @_ramonareinhartg

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

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

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

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

Instagram: @m2c_works

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

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

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

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

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

Instagram: @katie0712yl, @yaohua_wwww

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

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

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

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

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

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

Instagram: @nicholewiedemann

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

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

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

Instagram: @rubgarrub

2023 Study Architecture Student Showcase - Part XXV

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

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

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

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

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

This project won the Maxwell Taylor Prize.

Instagram: @_campenney

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

Viva Terlingua!

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

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

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

Instagram: @kristi.saliba

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Instagram: @ksudesignmake 

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

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

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

Instagram: @architecturalecologieslab

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

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

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

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

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

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

See you in the next installment of the Student Showcase!

2023 Study Architecture Student Showcase - Part XXIV

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

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

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

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

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

Instagram: @michellecianfaglione, @nyitarch, @exdarchitecture

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

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

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

Instagram: @unl_mharpster

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

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

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

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

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

Instagram: @scott_shall

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

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

Instagram: @mohler.rick, @veronicarstrepo

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

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

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

Instagram: @feghali.yara

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

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

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

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

Instagram:  @arch.brandonsmith, @yaohua_wwww

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Instagram: @reimerscarlos

See you in the next installment of the Student Showcase!

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!

UCLA SOAA Summer Arts Program

FORM Academy created by UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture supports art education and college aspirations with exercises in “Dreaming Identity.”

The Sculpture Lab in the Broad Art Center was abuzz with activity this summer with preparations for a very special exhibit. But instead of UCLA students creating works of bronze, ceramic, and other traditional media for their respective portfolios, the young artists, who were culled from underserved high schools in Los Angeles, were shaping something less tangible yet by no means less significant: dreams of developing their artistic talent and an understanding of what it means to go to college.


Barbara Drucker, SOAA Associate Dean of Community Engagement and Arts Education, and Michael Aguilar, a UCLA Community School student, discuss his project in the Broad Sculpture Lab at UCLA.

Barbara Drucker, Associate Dean of Community Engagement & Arts Education in UCLA’s School of the Arts and Architecture, is the founding director of the Visual and Performing Arts Education Program (VAPAE). While leading VAPAE, she established and spearheaded a number of arts education programs that provide UCLA students the opportunity to work with diverse populations of school-age children and youth, such as “Classroom-in-Residence” at the Hammer Museum.  This summer, Drucker, along with Ben Refuerzo, Associate Dean of Equity, Diversity & Inclusion in the School of Arts and Architecture created the FORM (Fabricate, Originate, Reimagine, and Make) Academy. They saw a need for more quality summer arts experiences in low-income schools. For this inaugural program, the theme of “Dreaming Identity” guided the six-day academy, which was held Aug. 1-6 at UCLA.

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