Sometimes it seems that life catches up to you and often gets the better of you.
Since graduation life has been a non-stop affair, from a wedding to teaching at an Architecture Discovery Camp to settling into a job. It seems as though I do not have time to catch my breath before the next deluge of life pours down over me. What the next one is I do not yet know but I am considering anticipating it although it is not worth going through life holding your breath so I must move forward. This blog (musings of architecture) was originally meant to chronicle the journey through my graduate year and my master’s thesis project. While that has fell behind on the highway of life I think it is important, no essential, to keep writing about architecture, whether articles about buildings, sketches, projects, and photography.
So, here is my pledge to this blog, and possibly the few readers that are out there, to keep you up to date on how architecture and my life are still intertwined. I have several different trips this summer that I am planning and am always sketching and photographing nature and architecture.
Today, I really want to spend some time talking about a phrase which I am sure goes around in most professions. “If you cannot do, then teach.” Frankly, I do not believe that those who choose to become professors within their field cannot do; in fact, they choose not to do, often time making less money and gaining fewer accolades for their work.
This last week I spent time teaching and mentoring a group of eighteen high school students about architectural design. Needless to say, you may understand why I am bringing up the phrase, “If you cannot do, then teach”. This week was a challenge and a triumph for me because it allowed me to explore something which I developed a passion for this last year of school. Mentoring others allows you to have a huge impact on the lives of students (or in this case camp members).
Even more now as I am settling back into the rhythms of life I am, more than usual, realizing how much those that have taught me still impact my decision making, still impact what I think about with a project, still impact what I think about from day to day. From my design professors who encouraged me to think about the smallest details, to my architectural history professor who, forced me to memorize countless buildings, which, (if I may be honest) thought would never matter, but alas, I think about them constantly through form and social meaning as I work through any project.
Think about it, think through some of the most influential people in your life, chances are they are a relative or two, then a friend, but chances are there is a teacher somewhere near the top, whether a high school gym teacher or a professor or a mentor.
In my mind, “Teaching is the profession that teaches all the other professions.”
In my Christian Worldview and Architecture class we were asked to conduct a visioning charrette for the university. One of my group’s goals was to reclaim the quad that was lost with the construction of the new architecture building here at Judson University. In a space alongside this quad I worked on designing a 100’ x 100’ area that could provide an example of a way to organize the space to best suit the student community in multiple locations around campus.
Throughout the semester I have focused on the way that two buildings, a train station and a church, relate to public space. Through the development of my buildings I have thought through the optimal way for the urban environment to respond. This post is an understanding of those musings.
If you remember back to my earlier urban plan there was a plaza created in front of the train station which extended into the space along the nave of the church. One of the challenges of this irregular urban plan was correctly defining the square to provide an understanding that the church was, in fact, the primary building on that square but the relation of the train station to the church was flipped in fact so the train station became the primary building.
To achieve this I broke down the large square into pieces, each building, or in a singular case group of buildings, was given its own portion of the urban plan. Through this understanding it enables the organization of the spaces in relation to each other. One of the downfalls of the plan below is the void that the street creates in between the square of the church and the train station retail square, also for understanding the plan below is drawn in the style of a nolli diagram, which expresses the public spaces within the buildings, as well as, the public spaces in the urban fabric.
Through this I looked into the possibility of creating a formal square for the church within the boundaries of the street through the organization of elements on the corners. This enables the existing space planned for beside the church to become a formal garden entry into the ancillary spaces within the church.
Finally you can see three sketch perspectives dealing with the idea of framing along my streets in order to further emphasize the importance of both the church and the train station in my design. As usual comments and questions are invited.
Through the process of working on the redesign of my church I spent time working on the structure of both buildings. In the understanding of this structure several things changed on the way the elevations were composed as well as the interior as a whole. These drawings are still in progress but I wanted to give an understanding of what I was working on. The drawings below are 1’ = ¾” which means the drawings are approximately 30 inches tall. After Critique Friday these drawings will be better detailed and give a clear understanding of the way that the structure will work.
The first drawing is a section cutting through the nave of the church looking toward the east and the apse. The second image is a in process section of the train station. Which is taken through the rear train shed.
I apologize for the amount of time that it has been since my post following the midterm critique two weeks ago. Since then, one week of spring break and one week of classes have passed. Spring break I spent working on a redesign of the church which is the primary purpose of this post.
At the post critique review I sighted several challenges with the past design of my church which included: dealing with the programmatic challenges, and considering the opportunity to fill up the entire depth of the site with my building. Through these changes it was important to constantly keep a view of the building and the siting of the building as it related to the community.
Through these changes you can see that I redesigned the way that the church interacts with the streetscape by pulling a portico forward with ionic columns supporting it. That columnar grid then expresses the opportunity to relate through the entire length of the church in the column center lines which run along the edge of the nave. I took the opportunity to place side aisles along the church, which as you can see through the section enable the opportunity to light the nave through clerestory windows.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.