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alex rea design work 2006-2012

cover image: exploded axon of Picasso’s Houses on the Hill, graphite on mylar, 2006

design process ..... 5 iHouse ..... 7 Limi+ Prototypes Headquarters .....11 Rockefeller Trailhead ..... 15 (2009 Kansas City AIA Merit Award for design excellence) competitions: [HONG KONG] Alternative Car Park Tower ..... 23 Drylands Design ..... 27 [AMSTERDAM] Iconic Bridge ..... 31 [un]restricted access from military space to civic space ..... 35 various selected images ..... 38

North American Plains Indians hunted the bison for meals, clothing, & shelter. The culture was actively defined by a single entity.

[gastronomy ∞ architecture] When examined at primitive levels, food and shelter are the most essential requirements of man. The differences between these necessities are blatantly apparent, but it seems the linkages between the two are equally as vast and obvious. The similarities, then, of the chef’s hand with those of the architect’s become evident. Both combine raw ingredients with an introspective understanding and intense fervor to produce something that is somehow greater than the sum of its parts. Using this gastronomic analogy as a basis, I’ve been able to apply many similar ways of thinking to my design process.


iHouse: disaster relief housing (two-week brainstorm) fall 2007 Natural disasters are nearly impossible to be definitively prepared for. When they strike populated areas, the effects extend far beyond monetary loss. This temporary relief shelter, designed to be easily erected and able to accommodate two able-bodied adults, places equal focus on energy use, aesthetics, and comfort. With such a small square footage to work with, one of the challenges of this project was to create a home in which every area had a deliberate use; in many cases, areas had multiple uses. This programmatic element becomes exciting in that it lends itself to creating physically engaging/transformative space. only after disaster can we be resurrected - Chuck Palahniuk



photovoltaic panels cistern

live eat sleep restroom storage

sleeping loft/study compressible kitchen bathroom HVAC/exterior storage interior storage

main living space



Limi+ Prototyping Headquarters spring 2008 Being the first mid-scale design that many of us had been exposed to, studio-wide emphasis was placed on intelligent structure, circulation, and system layout. Site significance was also brought to the table as the building sits in North Lawrence with views of the Wakarusa River Dam and the downtown strip. To begin the project, precedent studies were conducted on several successful international offices. Again, form was overshadowed by efficiency during these investigations.




Rockefeller Trailhead (2009 Kansas City AIA Merit Award for design excellence) In the spring of 2009, fifteen students spent roughly three months collaborating on a trail head design for the University of Kansas Field Station and Ecological Reserves. Located on a tract of virgin prairie in north Lawrence, the structure’s primary aim was to create a landmark which would connect the developing network of trails spanning the property and provide relief to visitors. The client also requested that we incorporate information which could serve as educational opportunities for visiting school groups. Made of galvanized steel tube and reclaimed telephone poles (milled down to useable dimensions), the studio’s design tried to touch the earth lightly while imitating the natural vegetation, contours, and textures of the Kansas prairie. All prefabrication and site work (with the exception of pouring the concrete pad) was completed by students. Despite the grueling pace, this semester was possibly one of the most influential of my career. A real world client relationship was formed, team design was practiced, and the construction process was realized from beginning to end. I was left with a sense of pride and accomplishment which was only strengthened when the trail head was recognized by the Kansas City AIA.









Hong Kong Alternative Car Park Tower fall 2011 The parking structure has captured the imagination of novelists, photographers and filmmakers, and yet it remains peripheral to our culture, best understood as forbidding fictional setting or as an often imposing silent building that we encounter along the way. Hong Kong, situated on China’s south coast and enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea, is renowned for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour. And with a population of seven million people, Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. Car parks are underappreciated by users (too cold, too dark, too insecure etc..) and this competition hopes to offer a new take on this type of building that is far too quiet. The aim of this International competition is to design an iconic and Alternative Car Park Tower in the heart of Hong Kong. The new tower will include several possibilities for events such as concerts, art exhibitions, fashion shows, ceremonies dinners, cinematic projections, etc. - [AC-CA]


re·spire verb:


1. Breathe. 2. (of a plant) Carry out respiration, esp. at night when photosynthesis has ceased.

In an international city with such urban density, developing and maintaining a focus on air quality and responsible space usage was imperative to this design. Traditionally, car park towers are seen simply as utilitarian structures. Interiors are often dim, insensitive, and confusing. They become a design geared toward the vehicle and its scale; the human becomes a secondary concern. Feeding off the idea of respiration, my design seeks to provide breath to Hong Kong’s financial centre while also addressing Victoria Harbour. 1 multi-purpose space (e.g. banquet, conference) 2 rooftop café-bar 3 main car park 4 motorcycle parking 5 administration 6 cycling parking 7 loading area 8 storage 9 plant room 10 entrance hall

The notions of compression and release were key concepts in how I wanted occupants to experience the parking tower. As the spiral ramps transport users up and down, the repeating floor plates create an uncompromising tempo within which a separate beat of light and dark occurs. As users park and exit their vehicle on any one of the thirtysix levels, they are presented with an oppurtunity for release: aperatures of light puncturing the lightly perforated skin. These voids not only create ideal opportunities for cross-ventilation (breath), but also an escape into a lush, green space that can be realized as much more than a simple balcony.


south-north section






> release <


Drylands fall 2011 Water scarcity is both the history and the future of the American west. Rethinking water use, particularly in the face of climate change, will be central to the regionâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s survival. The work exceeds the grasp of a single discipline, and touches all dimensions of the way people live and work. Sustaining the US West in the face of water scarcity and hydrologic variability brought on by climate change will require strategic architectures, infrastructures, and urbanisms that promote adaptation and resilience. Drylands Design seeks innovation in architecture, urban design, landscape architecture, regional planning, and infrastructure design that addresses water supply, water quality, water access, water treatment, and the water/energy nexus. Drylands Design seeks integrative proposals from multidisciplinary design teams that anticipate science and policy perspectives as necessary dimensions of intelligent design response, and exploit beauty as an instrument of resilience and adaptation. - Drylands Design


[in the rain shadows] | the problem | rain shadow: a dry area on the lee side of a mountainous area.


(1) warm, moist air is pulled over a mountain by prevailing winds. (2) it cools, condenses, and precipitates. (3) the result is in an arid region on the backside of the mountain (as shown in the diagram below). with an average annual precipitation of 13 inches, Antioch, CA is an example of a populated area which sits in a rain shadow.

wind direction

rain shadows

sierra nevadas

we must take advantage of these “ephemeral creeks”


coast range

pacific ocean

rain shadows

- brad lancaster


rain shadows of the world

antioch, ca



38°N, 121°W

patagonia 48°S, 70°W

madagascar 20°S, 47°E

tibetan plateau 33°n, 88°E




| on just 3 acres... |

| the solution | by creating families of waterharvesting aquaponic greenhouses, members of the community will gain job opportunities, practice healthy eating habits, learn about the cultivation process, and reclaim water that would have usually been lost to runoff or irresponsible agriculture practices.

- 10,000 fish - tilapia and perch - 300-500 yards of compost - compost produces heat for plant germination - one packed greenhouse carries a crop value of $5 / sq ft - $200,000 / acre

the goal would be to establish as many of these structural groupings as possible in areas of the world that struggle with arid conditions. within the greenhouses, fruits and vegetables (such as apricots, pistachios, olives, pomegranates, and figs) would be chosen based on their water consumption and survivability in hot, dry climates. the amount of water that could be saved by practicing responsible agricultural alone is significant.

three acres of greenhouse can produce one million pounds of food - will allen founder of growing power milwaukee, wisconsin 20.000.000 lbs on 60 acres

4.000.000 lbs on 12 acres

| aquaponic cycle | once up and running, this (nearly) closed-loop cycle ensures that almost no outside water or nutrient will be necessary. as an additonal step, solar dehydrators will be implemented within the greenhouses to produce dried fruits and reclaim water that wouldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve normally been lost. microbes & worms

fish fish produce waste

we must plant the rain before we plant the plants. -brad lancaster

1.000.000 lbs on 3 acres 667.000 lbs on 2 acres 333.000 lbs on 1 acre

rich compost used for fruit tree growth add coconut coir to compost

waste converted to nitrates for plants

plants thrive on nitrate-rich water which then returns to the fish

plant scraps square mile = 640 acres


[AMSTERDAM] Iconic Pedestrian Bridge spring 2012 The bridge is a structure built to span physical obstacles such as a body of water, for the purpose of providing passage over the obstacle. It is designed for pedestrians and cyclists, rather than vehicular traffic. Footbridges complement the landscape and can be used decoratively to visually link two distinct areas or to signal a transaction. They can be both functional and beautiful works of art and sculpture in there own right as seen in some of the most visited countries around world. Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands and has a population of approximately 1.5 million. It has been called the â&#x20AC;&#x153;Venice of the Northâ&#x20AC;? for its more than one hundred kilometres of canals, about 90 islands and 1,500 bridges. The aim of this International competition is to design an Iconic Pedestrian Bridge in the Heart of Amsterdam. The architecture of this new structure should reflect contemporary design tendencies. The proposal must not only attend to the specific function, but the design should also take into consideration the urban insertion and impact geared towards creating a new architectural symbol for a European capital city. - [AC-CA]


designed with the introspective individual in mind, the reverie bridge not only serves as an efficient pedestrian corridor, but also provides a place to get pleasantly lost in oneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s thoughts; perhaps a daydream...



[un]restricted access from military space to civic space spring 2012 Dotting the global landscape, decommissioned military installations are leaving their mark â&#x20AC;&#x201C; symbols of triumph, pride, pain and the unforeseen consequences of military aggression. These abandoned structures and ghost towns disrupt neighborhoods and split entire communities. [UN] RESTRICTED ACCESS asks architects and designers to partner with community groups across the world and develop innovative solutions to re-envision closed, abandoned and decommissioned military sites. The six-month competition requires designers to work with the communities surrounding these former places of conflict to transform oftentimes hostile locations into civic spaces built for the public good. - Architecture for Humanity



Sitting on a former Marine Corps Air Base, these titans of history now serve as sole guardians of the approximately sixteen hundred acres of abandoned land in Tustin, California. At seventeen stories tall and covering some 296,000 square feet, the pair of impressive structures have become beacons on the horizon in an otherwise low-lying urban fabric. In conceptualizing an engaging community program for the decommissioned military base, complicated juxtapositions and intense satirical possibilities arose. The goal was to physically and mentally soften these things in a way that paid homage to the past while remaining progressive. The Tustin Floating Gardens satisfies these ideals by creating a botanical center for education, recreation, & retreat. The WWII airships that used to be tethered down in the cold hangar, once again soar above as elevated green space. Additionally, the ground floor (itself hovering five feet) holds a cafe and 450-seat theatre to further the enhance civic functionality.


Casa Cabo fall 2008


scale model Hiroshi Nakaoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Black Maria spring 2007


Alex Rea | design work  

A collection of selected works as a student in the School of Architecture, Design & Planning at the Unversity of Kansas.

Alex Rea | design work  

A collection of selected works as a student in the School of Architecture, Design & Planning at the Unversity of Kansas.