Thursday, July 3, 2014


This week, the students presented five design schemes that represent a synthesis of ideas coming out of the original twelve schemes. 

The goal of this study was to synthesize, or combine ideas into well-developed schemes.  Last week, the students narrowed the 12 original schemes down to five ideas that would be developed.  This week, the challenge was to develop and refine these ideas into nearly final design studies.  Already there is evidence that students are beginning to consider the realities of building this form as a part of the design process.  One team even constructed a full scale prototype of a construction detail for this review.  Several teams had some very convincing detail drawings.
For the most part, each team was able to combine and develop ideas from the previous ‘round of 12’ studies.  A few of the design projects made some big leaps from the previous study just a week prior.  Where teams struggled a little bit was getting the projects to that NEXT level of detail and refinement that is necessary for us to be able to build these projects.

I find that developing design work is often hard for students to grasp.  I am not sure why this is such a challenge.  Perhaps it is a limitation on my part to effectively communicate the expectations.  Perhaps it is related to the fact that developing work is the WORK part of the discipline.  Or perhaps in this case it is related to the challenges of students working together in large teams, which requires communication and physical presence in the studio. My sense is that in this case it is the latter.  As the group size has increased it has become more difficult to keep everyone on the same page.  This is probably just the nature of trying to do large group project, but I will continue to explore ways to make this team work more effectively.

Here is a look at the results of the schemes as they were presented.
This scheme was a development of some of the ideas begun by the various radial schemes presented in the first critique.  This scheme was well developed, and we all felt that this could be a very buildable and interesting design scheme to pursue.  We liked the way the interior could be used for an outdoor class, while the exterior of the form focused your attention on the adjacent pond.  There were questions as to the refinement of the roof detail, and if it would be as easy to build as the design team thought.  We were not completely convinced about the aesthetic relationship between the base and the roof canopy form, but we did like the dynamic character of the roof.

This scheme was a development of the blocks and ceilings schemes from the previous critique.  We felt that this scheme was the most spatial of the five, and that it effectively created an intimate gathering space.  We were concerned that the scope of this scheme was beginning to exceed the time we have available to execute this with quality.  There was a lot going on in this design, and we felt that maybe it was overly complicated.

This scheme was a development and refinement of the spiral scheme from the previous study.  Many students really liked the potential an innovativeness of this scheme.  I was satisfied with the way this scheme had been simplified in plan, however I had serious concerns about how this would be constructed with quality.  The design team had tried to prototype a full scale section, which I very much appreciated, however this design detail model only raised more concerns in my mind about the complexity of this scheme.  Since every bay is unique, this scheme would be a massive undertaking to construct. It is a great scheme for a portfolio, but not the scheme for this class in its maiden voyage.

This scheme is a formally simplified version of the sectional scheme from the previous study.  This scheme was still my favorite, and the one we have ultimately chosen to pursue.  I appreciate the formal control of the profiles.  I like the way the space is created out of stacked sectional bays, and that each section is defined by a continuous form.  I also like the spatial characteristics of this scheme, including the way in which this occupiable sculpture creates unique and very functional seating for students to gather.  This scheme was not very effectively detailed, and now the challenge become to refine and develop the design details based on this overall formal concept.


This scheme was a development on the linear scheme from the previous study.  We liked aspects of this scheme, including a concrete base detail that would weigh the structure, as well as the drama of the roof canopy.  Overall we felt that other schemes were more interesting at this point.  There was also a concern as to the size of this project and the resolution of some of the detailing.

At the conclusion of the critiques we voted – and wouldn’t you know – it was a tie between these two schemes.
The Runner Up
The Selected Scheme
So, for another hour we had a healthy and robust debate on the merits of each scheme.  I was very proud of the student’s ability to have a candid and frank discussion in a professional manner.  This is absolutely the hardest part of design – making decisions – letting go of good ideas – and prioritizing intentions.  In the end, we re-voted, and the sections scheme was chosen to be developed.
The truth is, either of these final two schemes would have been a good choice.  I do think that we made a good decision that will become a fantastic sculptural space on campus for students to gather.  I also expect that we can execute this scheme with quality.
The next step is to REFINE the design and DEVELOP the construction detailing of this scheme.  It is a process.  The final design is due next week.

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