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 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 IX

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Instagram: @rubgarrub

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

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

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

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

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

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

Instagram: @rntarch

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

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

This project was awarded the Noel Blank Design Award.

Instagram: @rando_studios

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

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

Instagram: @rhythmarch

Catholic University of America | Advisor: Jason Montgomery

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

This project was nominated for Super Jury.

Instagram: masonreinhart_, 007jmontgomery0888

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

2023 Study Architecture Student Showcase - Part VIII

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Instagram: @aauschoolofarchitecture

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

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

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

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

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

New York Institute of Technology  | Advisor: Farzana Gandhi

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

This project was awarded the faculty thesis award at NYIT.

Morgan State University  | Advisor: Carlos A. Reimers

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

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

Instagram: @swagboy__kevin, @reimerscarlos

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

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

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

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

Instagram: @paolavalentinaaa

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