Monday, April 27, 2009

The Jewish Museum Berlin: Daniel Liebeskind

I hope that this continuing series of diagrams and texts will help understand this building. First, the obligatory money shot:

Now, on to the diagrams:

This connotation is pretty apparent and so I start with it. The exterior form of the building can be seen as a destructed Star of David.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Le Mans Mystery Solved

Team Seattle from Milan, Italy is this team. An AF Corse subsidiary is prepping their car. Go Seattle non-profit racers!

In short: Non-Profit racing team from Seattle partners with massively successful AF Corse racing team from Italy to take on Le Mans, raising money for Children's Hospital.

Who knew all I needed to do to solve the mystery was to type "Team Seattle" into google?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Dirt Dart (To Forget To - 1. Deploy Your Parachute 2. Fill Your Diving Suit With Air - Both Causing You To Hit The Dirt Hard)

I learn more from failures than successes. I have always said this, and usually followed it up with, and school is the place to fail. I believe this. Entirely. But that doesn't mean it doesn't suck and throw me into a funk when I fail.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Congratulations Peter Zumthor!

He deserved this. Zumthor's work speaks with clarity and complexity while all the while remaining grounded in what normal people want. I can love the thoughts of the famous architect, but when it comes down to it, I want to live in a Zumthor, an Ando, or a Pallasmaa. Maybe even a Holl. It is this non-diagrammatic architecture where I want to be. Congratulations, Peter Zumthor.


I have heard a lot of people speaking out against the Pritzker Committee's choice and to those people I say, "Fuck You."

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Is This Building A Car?

Sometimes I sit back, eyes closed, with the beat heavy in my head, the blur of the nights and days confusing my eyes, the space beneath them storing whatever it is that I have left, and I feel the pressure of the headphones on my ears, thinking, Thank God for Aesop Rock. Sometimes he's all that can keep me up.

As all the joints in my body tell me to stop, tell me the building is done, I distract them with Aesop Rock. My joints like music too. I distract them with Terry Pratchett audio books, I distract them with podcasts, the sound of engines, caffeine, nicotine, the breathtaking silence of Moscow at 4 AM. To think I used to hate this. I used to want to lose this battle. I used to want to quit.

I keep clicking. I always keep clicking. Maybe it's a sign of laziness that I can't even stop. Maybe it's a sign of addiction greater than nicotine, music, and all those other things. Whatever it is, I'm hooked. I used to tell myself, If I win the Pulitzer before I get out of Architecture Grad School I fucking quit architecture. My joints and I both know the truth though.

So lying back as far as my chair will go, I close my eyes. I feel my hoodie turn into grass, I feel the LCD turn into sunshine, I hear the beat thick inside it all, guiding the body back to the light of... It's just SketchUp. It's just a building. It's just a grade. Now I just have to finish. And that's where Aesop Rock comes in. Or Pratchett, or CPI, or Crystal Castles, or Flogging Molly, or the smooth voice of an architect giving a slideshow I'm not seeing and as he says, "I actually went over to Tokyo and built this shit. I'm amazed people still want me to build things. It's a Roman wall in the middle of Tokyo. I hired a bunch of Italian workmen from a small mountain town and took them over for three weeks because the Japanese don't even know how to build like this." I imagine what a Roman wall would look like in downtown Tokyo. I imagine one just popping into place one day, and the smoothly choreographed and memorized bodies suddenly forced to explore as the main road is blocked off by this wall ignorant of time. And I imagine a woman looking up, a man beside her, and both decide to spend the day in a restaurant nearby, and after twenty or so beers they wake up the next morning leaning against the wall, each on the other side. And when I pay attention again I hear a woman talking about a poolhouse, and various methods of thatching and I imagine it all. But I'm always wrong, it's just good to amuse the body every now and then so it will try to help you last until the end. But I guess that's the basic problem, that the body and the building are on different schedules. Oh well. Back to work.



6:33 PM Update:

It's certainly something different than I've ever done, but at the same time it is exactly the same. And that's what I am addicted to: this wicked question. The myriad solutions to every problem and the myriad outcomes of every project. "Architecture is monstrous," and it's so true. In order to allow I have to deny. This might be where my main link up with poetry is: both are monstrous in the same way. And yet in both I am only a part. Tschumi: "Architecture is the violent and sometimes pleasurable of space and its use/uses/users." I can design the building, but the construction team changes it drastically, and most importantly the use itself alters the building irrevocable by attaching meaning to it, something an architect cannot do.

Monday, April 06, 2009

I Write Myself A Building And Who Knew It Would Take Two Pages


None of these ideas came from nowhere and I would like to thank my classmates, professor, and critiquers for their conscious and subconscious interventions and suggestions throughout this project.

Rather than raping the site, or destroying the site, or even thinking about the site as something to be used, my goal was to work with the site and allow the site to relate to the building in an indispensable way. This interest in site-building integration led me to the site I chose, which is currently home to six old trees that this design retains. My initial explorations centered around fitting rigid, geometric shapes into the spaces between them, allowing the focus to be on the trees. However, it was too facade driven, and the experience of being inside the building was terrible. After our mid-crit I started over, now having something to react against and a better understanding of the site.

The trees stand 70 feet tall, and even though the building takes up almost two-thirds of the site, the size of the trees allows the squatter but wider building to not overpower their visual weight. Literally the building was formed by drawing on a site plan where the building could be while still preserving the trees. The two compliment each other, with the building's main circulation a direct response to the home of the trees, and the lower height of the building allowing them to shade the upper levels from the hot western sun. The stairs open onto the trees rather than the interior of the building. But their light is carried inside through the opaque glass that shields them from it. The Western Elevator views the central tree as it rises, and the Eastern views those just across the street in the Admin Lawn. The ramp is the notable exclusion to this tactic, rather responding to Art and Architecture instead of the trees – a duplicated image of the new exterior path separated only by a piece of glass. The entire form of the building is derived from the placement of the trees, and steps back as program requires to allow more light into the space between the two buildings and the offices inside Art and Architecture.

The site is also important as it sits in a very prominent location on campus: between the Admin and double A, Life Sciences and the Commons, close to Gibb and Morrill Halls, and in a prominent location on the historic admin lawn. As a result of location the building seems to want to engage its surroundings, which is one reason why keeping the trees was necessary. The western stairs view the Commons on their lower levels, the Kibbie on their upper. The Eastern stairs look out over Admin Lawn all the way up. The rooftop lawn, used for outdoor ceremonies, smoking, or lounging, looks at all the buildings around it, but also over their tops to the Palouse in the North and West. It is sloped inward to allow some privacy, and the trees provide further privacy. Water collected off the ceremonial space's roof allows the grass to stay green until it gets covered in snow. The other roofs are planted with native Palouse bunch grasses in order to survive the harsh winters and dry summers. These smaller roofs are viewed from both inside and out, unlike the grassed roof.

Operable windows to the East and West, as well as in the central circulation bridges, allow natural ventilation to take place. The atrium of the central space acts as a stack ventilation chimney and the hot air can be vented either outside to the north or to the largest room in the building: the banquet space on floor three. This will hopefully reduce heating costs versus comparable banquet spaces.

The top, or fourth, floor is occupied by the roof-lawn and the ceremonial space, as well as two dressing rooms. The elder's apartments are on the quiet and least-used third floor, separated from the banquet space for privacy and sound isolation. The evergreen trees shield direct views between the banquet hall and the elder's apartments, furthering their privacy. A small balcony for the elders allows outdoor viewing of the central tree, as well as fresh air. One apartment features a large bookcase, another a larger dining area, and the last a multimedia space. I hope these three different focuses will help increase communication between the elders. The offices are one floor down next to the smaller classroom, which I imagine could be taken over for larger meetings or conferences that do not fit in the conference room. Art's office shares a balcony with the AIST director's office. The two labs, two science faculty offices, and lab supply room are adjacent to each other just across the central space. The first floor has the large classroom next to the Student Center, which is zoned from north to south as social to study spaces. A bank of computers separates the two. Steve's office is in the quieter study area. The child care center is across the hall from the door to the courtyard, which is a playground for the children. The ramp leads from this floor down to the ground floor, which has a cafe in the north and a museum in the south. Alternate sections of glazing and non-glazed wall allow the ramp to feature smaller display spaces. The museum is partially underground, allowing the thermal mass of the earth to keep its temperature more stable, good for the health of the artifacts. Light to this floor comes in from the stairs and from the north, leaving the southern display space artificially lighted for an adaptable and controllable lighting scheme.

The stairs are basalt slabs. The interior walls are a combination of gypsum and glazing. The roofing materials have already been stated. The structure is steel for two reasons: the variation of these bands of floors requires a lightweight, strong material that works well in both tension and compression; also, structural steel is 96-97 percent recycled. The exterior cladding is a metal embossed with six foot vertical bands. Their visual rhythm and overlapping not only recall Tule mats, but act like a processor's heat sink to shed heat from the south-facing building.

The ceremonial space is punctuated by a skylight which allows direct noon sunlight into the space for only 1 week each year, centering on the summer solstice. The rest of the year only diffuse sunlight, direct skylight, and due east-west sunlight penetrate the space. Directly beneath the skylight is the strip of earth. The roof is metal not just to provide clean runoff for watering the roof-lawn but primarily to capture the aural qualities of the rain. This kind of out of body experience, hearing but not feeling the rain in this case, seems to recall tactics of other sacred spaces: cathedrals hiding the light's origin except for the rose window; the ocular skylights of many early mosques creating an unearthly indirectly lighted area in the land of sun and shadow, perhaps even recalling the special moments just before dawn and just after dusk in the desert; and the unusually cool, dry interior of Hindu temples contrasting the hot, humid climate of India. The roof and skylight are held up by north-south wooden beams, which in turn hold up east west plank sheeting, held apart a quarter of inch for the aural infiltration of the rain. The metal roof rests on slats above the planks.

The varied exterior of the building allows natural daylighting in all of the spaces except the museum. I tried in everything to allow the building to respond directly to its location and adjacencies at multiple scales: engaging the Palouse, the campus, the immediate surrounding, and at points even turning in on itself to view the central tree. The site remains its main influence, and I view the building as simply another information layer of the site.


I'll put up some final renders when I get time. But the first time I get is going to be sleep, not posting. Priorities. Instead, have a sketch of the ceremony roof with the AA roof and Palouse behind it: