"Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men's blood…" Daniel Burnham


Midterm Critique: Triumphs…Failures…Progress?

This last Friday we spent in critique at the Graham foundation in the northern historic residential district of Chicago.  Through the help of Thomas Norman Rajkovich and Allyson Vincent we had constructive critiques of our projects.  Even though we spent a long day presenting and exploring options within the eight different projects within our studio, it is always challenging to come out with an entirely positive outlook pertaining to the in-depth look at your project by professionals.

T’s F’s and P’s of the Church:

Triumphs:  Overall great urban plan and the relationship between the train station and church.  And that the building work well to create a sense of community.

Failures:  Through the critique one element about my project that was made clear was the need for a concise and adequate program.   This has been something I have been struggling to gain a cohesive understanding of my project as a whole with it due to the fact that I was not able to work for a specific client.  Through this understanding there were things that were lacking in the project pertaining to egress and facilities.  Another thing that was talked about was the siting of the building.  The casting a professional eye on the project thought that it would be more ideal to push the building back on the site and elongate the nave, this elongation creates a better entry sequence into the church as well as provides for the specific programmatic needs of the project.

Progress:  This week I plan to, while entering my project on the computer to continue work in AutoCAD and Revit, work on further understanding the critiques and come up with some solutions for some of the projects that they saw.  First I plan to do more research on trying to either look at existing churches, new or old, to create a more adequate program to fit the needs of the church.  Secondly I plan to elongate the nave and create a better sense of egress into the building; this elongation will most likely cause drastic changes to the west elevation of the church.  Through this elongation I will push the building toward the rear setback and box out around the apse of the church to provide a room for the priest preparation as well as a sacristy which will be the location that the sacraments will be prepared.  Through moving the church back on the site and the elongation of the nave I hope there will still be some room for a small plaza in front of the church itself that relates to the northern grand plaza and the train station.

T’s F’s and P’s of the train station:

(Due to the size of the drawings for the train station I will have to scan them another time and get them up here. )

Triumphs: The overall form of the train station was a sensible arrangement and overall siting was good with the way that it was organized to the larger public plaza. 

Failures: one of the biggest things that were talked about was the continuing engagement to the structure of the building and how that reads through the programmatic spaces within and around the building.  Those critiquing advised to work on the clarity of the three separate structural systems: the trabeated system of the great hall, the wall based system of the flanking wings and the trabeated iron or steel system of the train shed.

Progress:   Through the clarification of structure it will help me enable the clarity of the program through the elements which I already have in place.  I have looked at several precedents on how to resolve the integration of metal with masonry which I plan to document later.  Over all the trainstation needs simpler adjustments than does the church.

Through Spring break I plan to work out some of these kinks in the problems that I am having and keep pushing hard toward the final.  As always comments, questions, and critiques are always appreciated. 



Hello My Friend We Meet Again

Because of an in-house critique yesterday, the last week has been spent pushing in working on a range of drawings for both buildings.  The understanding of this critique was to spend time with fellow graduate candidates, seniors, and professors talking about some of the issues pertaining each of our specific projects. 

Overall, I believe that this critique was very helpful in answering some of the questions that I had been struggling through working with Dr. Miller my design professor.  Probably the most interesting comment that I needed to field through the critique was one by a fellow student who entertained the idea that the dome on my building looked like a WWI German Helmet with a spike in it.  What do you think?

Through the comic interlude in this comment we spend some time trying to resolve the understanding of the dome and the way that the structure was able to relate to the dome.  One of the challenges with the dome was that it felt too heavy which meant that it would become something that would become resolved through a more massive structure under the dome at the crossing.  Also the idea was thrown out to push it towards the idea of a wooden dome which would slightly change the proportions of the dome and enable it to appear lighter and have less of an impact on the structure through the crossing.

Switching over to the train station I was subjected to a long conversation pertaining to the structure which I still am slightly confused about.  The challenge with the train station is the expression of the structure on the front of the building which shows the idea of a ridge that runs parallel to the front of the building as seen in precedents like the Kansas City Union Station in Kansas City, as well as, the Washington D.C. Union Station.  I will post pictures from this discussion as well as some solutions on how to solve it. 

Finally part of this critique dealt with backing out from the idea of building design back into context to enable an ability to understand the way that the two buildings relate according to their context.  As you can see there is a public square that I have created in front of the train station which is on axis with the public square of the Church.  Originally I was seeking to get a better connection with the two public square and somehow enable the connection of the squares to read as one.  I may look into this Idea by eliminating the trees between the two squares as well as creating a change in the material of the street to match the squares rather than the access of the street.  Below is the current plan.

It is in high hopes that in the next couple days I will be able to expand the understanding of these challenges, as well as, show some progress on rising above them.


Keeping the Wheels Rolling

For my thesis project, I have taken the responsibility of two buildings, the first a church and the second a train station the following is initial drawings of the train station.  I will continue to work back and forth between the two projects till the end of the semester along with this work I will also begin looking at the larger context of the two buildings and how they relate to each other in the master plan which I developed last semester.  More images of this urban relationship to come.

The images below are, from top to bottom, The principle elevation which is accessed off of a public square (Sketch elevation and drafted elevation), The side elevation which faces a secondary street, this enables the ability to access station directly from the street in a Kiss and Ride fashion (Sketch elevation and drafted elevation), Finally the rear elevation shows the development of the train shed through interpretation between the classical forms of architecture and modern materials (Sketch elevation and drafted elevation).


Style Paper

One of the challenges of designing classical architecture in a modern world is the constant scrutiny of the public as well as other architects.  These critics view the idea of classical architecture as unnecessary ornament that is applied to the building separate from any actual structural capacity.  We have been challenged by our studio professor to develop a understanding of the structure as it relates to the forms of the building types that we are choosing to design.

The Style paper is an expression of the undeniable link that is present between the exterior of the building and the interior through the structure that is necessary for the building to stand.  Through this understanding of structure it is important to understand the structural language that will appear in the expression of classical architecture.  This is a working draft of my document and it will continue to develop throughout the entirety of the project.


stoner.derek.style paper.02092011

Solving the Problem of Roof Tectonics

One of the challenges that I have been dealing with in my church design is the tectonic understanding of the entablature on the exterior and how that in turn relates to the interior.    While looking at this challenge with the civic expression through the interior versus the exterior of the building, I chose to upgrade the order used on the interior from Doric on the exterior to Corinthian on the interior.  This choice had more challenges than I realized especially with understanding the order on the inside and how that relates to the exterior.

As can be seen in the above image, I have extended the tectonics of the Doric order on the exterior through to the structure of the roof.  You see that the tectonics relate directly to the parts of the Doric entablature the Architrave relates to a structural idea of a beam running along the structure of the bearing wall.  The Frieze is representative of the idea of a beam running perpendicular the face of the wall.  Finally the Cornice is representing the rafters as they come down and meet the bearing wall.

In the image below is a compilation of several attempts to solve this relationship challenge between the interior and the exterior.


The Eye is the Window of the Soul

Through the research into several different ideas for the expression of the structure of the building to be shown in the elevation, I settled on looking at the precedent of Christ’s Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  As you can see through the image of the church along the nave there is a trabeated structure that is used to express the load from the rafters and a more obvious wall based architecture on the apse elevation.

(Image Scanned from:  Clem Labine’s Traditional Building.December 2010 Edition.Cover Illustration)

This idea can also be seen through the expression of the elevations of my building.  The challenge with figuring this out is the discrepancy between the interior and exterior elevations of the building.  The primary choice I needed to make was to determine whether to use rectangular window or arched windows.  Below are the drawings that I made to determine the best way to design the windows.  In the end I decided going with the arched windows.  The following image is a composite of the two windows beside each other drawn with pilasters flanking them.


The Devil is in the Details


After considering the building section and plan through both analysis and research pertaining to the correct detailing of the construction methods, I reworked the elevations and section to further explore the effect of the relation of the exterior facade to the interior. 

The images below are as follows: The east elevation which is of the apse side of the church, the south elevation which is expressed as the long elevation, the final drawing is expressed as a section through the nave looking to the north. 

Taking a Closer Look

Immediately we were encouraged to spend time working through the tectonics of the buildings that we were working on.  Attached to this post is an enlarged section that was drawn after the initial design was worked out.   The goal of this section and plan was to illustrate the idea of the impact that a bearing wall system of construction would have on the building.

Below is the aforementioned Section and plan.


Don’t Let the Sound of Your Own Wheels Drive You Crazy

     Almost a month into the semester already and it seems to be flying by.  Finally able to get a moments rest after digging out from the storm that has been affectionately called the blizzard of 2011.  18 or so inches of snow + 50 mph winds + lightning = a Good time and a full day off of school.

     But here I am showing you some of my most recent sketches and catching you all up to where I am at.  This post will be a string of rapid posts hoping to catch you up with my process.

     Attached to this message are the principle elevation and plan of my Church which is placed on a square across the street from the train station.



Goin’ to the Chapel

        Now that I have reached the end of the semester it is important to begin to document the work that I have produced throughout the semester.

        The first project which I spent time on during the process of the graduate thesis selection was a small chapel that was to be located in either a small town in Madagascar or a hilltop compound in Honduras. I selected the Madagascar site, which is located in the small city of Morombe, not just because of an interesting urban location but also because it dealt with not only the contextual language of the architecture but also the liturgical functions of the chapel. The results of my chapel show a simple masonry structure with an effort to maintaining the contextual values of design and understanding the climate features which will greatly impact the buildings use and function in not only the summer months but also the winter months. Below are some of the drawings that I did for the finished sketch presentation.