Selected Undergraduate Design Studio Projects--Design IV Fall 2014


Professors Kevin Bone, Anthony Vidler, Tulay Atak, Matthew Roman,Teddy Kofman

A New Datum: Landscape, Infrastructure, Architecture

When Louis Kahn received the commission to design the Monument to the Four Freedoms in September of 1973, the baseline he used for the architectural assemblage was 9” inches above the established mean high tide. By the time the project was constructed and opened to the public on October 24, 2012 the design had been adjusted to reflect the new world reality: the baseline had to be raised 15” above the old MHT. The new datum was already making itself felt. Days later, Hurricane Sandy made the fluctuations tacit.

As a response to the billion dollar losses in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Rebuild by Design sponsored a competition to study alternative ideas for making New York City both more defensible against future damage and more resilient in the event the city sustains such losses again. One of the six winning entries was a project from the Danish firm BIG. The project proposes a fortified line (a thick edge) 10 miles long defined by the limits of NYC’s Hurricane Evacuation Zone 1 that would help protect Lower Manhattan from the catastrophic infrastructural and economic losses associated with storms like Sandy.

The fourth year design studio appropriated the line of the BIG project as a site. Each student was required to develop a portion of this line, articulate a program and propose architectural manifestations of this new threshold.

Phase 1: Operational Models

The first portion was a two-week exercise, undertaken in groups of four students, which produced a series of analytical physical models in section. These were “operational models” to suggest ways of working on the site.

Phase 2: Collective Narrative

Collecting and distilling the ideas that emerged from the first phase of the analytical models, a collective (across the studio) was developed through which ideas of interaction and interweaving of individual works were explored and a common vision of the elements and structure or transformation emerged. A definitive site selection was taken based on the strategies explored in the first phase.

Phase 3: Architectural Manifestations

Individual projects were proposed and developed. Projects operated within fields of non-specific boundaries, allowing the limits between proposals to be deliberately undefined. The studio aspired to discover new combinations of urban and architectural interactions. This way of working was both a response to the collective strategy and a negotiation with neighboring architectural ideas. Each project reached specific architectural articulation or resolution while responding to the overarching urban and landscape issues raised by the studio. Plans, sections, elevations, models, and views described all the basic architectural ideas of the project.



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