Saturday, December 19, 2009

Fine Tuning for the Final Review

After the mid-review, we had several discussions with our instructor Karl about the legibility and quality of our drawings, renderings, model, etc. We simplified the Rhino model, by simplifying the surfaces, since they were very faceted in our previous model. I also revised the exterior space by making a progression of stairs so that it could read more as a landscape through the building. Along with minor adjustments, we added different shades of gray in the plans and sections to distinguish between the circulation, exterior spaces, light wells, and interior spaces.


After finally going through the process of the design and concept process, we made another updated model, and we were now able to put together several plans and diagrams.


Now that our group was able to get a much clearer idea of the direction for this project, we went back into Rhino to refine our previous sketch model. The three of us divided the work by individually assigning different parts of the model. I worked on the the northwest corner, which included classrooms library the tall light well and part of the central exterior space.

In this revision, I made a curve along the vertical surfaces, creating a 'light scoop' along the most northern wall, to deflect more natural light to the lowest levels.

This is the Rhino model with our assigned parts put together.

An updated physical model.

Another collaboration of ideas

After discussing the site's relationship to the street level and the 'L', we agreed that we needed to design an effective sound buffer for the train, and create a moment where the building has a direct connection to the street corner. Since the northwest corner is the area with the least amount of natural light, we chose to make that corner the highest point of the roof scape, and insert a light well that would reach to the lowest level. After a desk crit with our instructor Karl, we also decided to move the public spaces on top of the classrooms and hallways, mainly for structural support.

Were able to meet our goals for the building by working simultaneously on a physical study model.

More research

As our group was searching for a form that we could all agree on, we did more research on buildings where the spaces of program would follow an overall form. We primarily looked for buildings that had effective light wells.

The Ewha Women's University Campus Center designed by Dominique Perrault contains exhibition spaces, a gymnasium, auditorium, restaurants, and study rooms. The strategy of using ramps to carve a 'valley' through the site creates a large light well, and it enables handicap accessibility to all spaces. The light wells reach down to the lowest inhabitable levels.

This is the new Thayer Building located on the U of M campus at E Washington St & S Thayer St. Though this building is not surrounded by large skyscrapers like our site in Chicago, I thought this was a good example of a light well that could bring plenty of natural light down four floors in such a narrow space.

Chicago Site

We visited our building's site in Chicago, located on S Wabash Ave & E Van Buren St. As expected, site was completely covered in shade (at approximately 3:30 pm). One major thing we did not anticipate was the amount of noise generated by traffic and the 'L' Train.

View of the site from the corner of S. Wabash Avenue and E. Van Buren St.

View from under the 'L' Train on E. Van Buren St.

Alley located west on the site, connecting to E. Van Buren St.


Since our first design attempt was essentially just a layout of programmatic cubes, the three of us decided to work separately to find different solutions for finding optimal natural lighting solutions for the given site. I designed a system of "periscopes" that would reach out for light in different times of the day, then bend and diffuse light into lower levels of the building.

First Collaboration

When our group first started designing the layout for the school, we tried to adhere to the handout that listed the square footage of program, and square footage of classrooms, support spaces, etc. Our concept for the layout was that the library would also serve as a central circulation space where the different grade levels would join together. However, the design for the school was restricted since we referred to the program list much more than we should have.


After learning how to set parameters in Digital Project, we input the sun angles for different times of the day during the month of October, which was when we visited the site in Chicago.

We combined all of the shadows together into the site, so we could pinpoint the areas that are shaded throughout the day, as well as those that are relatively well lit.

This diagram shows the shadows on the site, for every school hour during the month of October. The northwest corner of the site would receive the least amount of light throughout the day.

Digital Project (Experiment 3)

The three images above shows the model in Digital Project, then exported to Rhino and rendered in Vray.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Digital Project (Experiment 2)

This surface is based on the unchanged parameters from the original plan sketch.

The surface variations (below) were achieved by adjusting the circle formulas and applying various height parameters for each cell division.

Digital Project (Experiment 1)

Removing the diagonal constraint made it possible to make significant adjustments to the parameters. Above are three plan variations.

The cellular division is organized by two sets of circles, in which the radii increases in sequential order. The angled horizontal rows are coincident to a diagonal constraint line that is tangent to the top right and bottom left circles.