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PORTFOLIO selected architectural studies by AmĂŠrica M. Castillo


AmĂŠrica M. Castillo selected works



América Castillo PROFILE


I am a multi-cultural designer with a passion for innovation and collaborative thinking. Through my training, I have developed rigorous design and management skills that allow me to smoothly tackle a wide range of projects and issues. My experience living across Latin America and Europe has also given me a global perspective and made me adaptable to a large range of environments. As an urban thinker, I am fascinated by product design and love creating solutions with purpose.

1188 Mission St San Francisco, CA 94103 +1 787 946 8585


Jan - Jul 2018 | San Francisco, CA

Junior Designer | Form + Field


Formed part of all design and business operations within a fast-growing interior design firm. Oversaw execution of over 7 renovation projects across the San Francisco Bay Area, including projects with over $1M in scope. Responsabilities included: > Concept proposals, mood boards, and client presentations > Budgeting, sourcing, purchasing, and project management > CAD drawings, 3D models, and renderings > Communicatng with clients, contractor, and subcontractor teams > Construction document sets and permit submitions > Creating vendor relationships (locally and through trade shows) > Development of marketing collateral and brand identity direction

Concept Design Project Management Web Content Production Design Research Hand Drawing + Building CAD + 3D Modeling 3D Rendering Graphic Design Photography Illustration Print Making Attention to Detail

Jul - Aug 2017 | San Juan, PR

Business Development Intern | Parallel18 Assisted in the Business Development area of the startup accelerator’s 5 month program, including P18 Connect — a program designed to foster partnerships between high-impact startups from around the world and large companies operating locally.

EDUCATION Aug 2012 - May 2017 | Ithaca, NY

Cornell University | Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch) > > > > >

Concentration in Architectural History Cornell in Rome Study Abroad Program, Fall 2014 Berlin Travel Studio, Spring 2016 Havana Travel Studio, Fall 2016 Cumulative GPA: 3.67/4.00

SOFTWARE SKILLS Adobe Illustrator Adobe Photoshop Adobe InDesign Rhinoceros 3D AutoCAD Chief Architect MS Office Google Suite Keynote Apple OS Windows OS Social Media:

LANGUAGES THESES + PUBLICATIONS Spring 2017 | Cornell University College of Architecture, Art, and Urban Planning

“New Urban Fabrics: An Architectural Model for Silicon Valley” Bachelor thesis research and design centered on the urban development of the San Francisco Bay Area. Full publication can be accessed here.

English Spanish German French Portuguese Italian




NEW URBAN FABRICS An Architectural Model for Silicon Valley San Francisco Bay Area, CA


DENKMAL Cold War Memorial Berlin, Germany


ROOMS Casa Esquina (Corner House) Garrotxa / Delta Del Ebro, Spain


SPECTACULAR PRODUCTION Re-imagining Cuba’s Tobacco Industry La Habana, Cuba


HYBRIDS Transformative Architecture Siteless


RUIN & FRAGMENT Museum for the Temple of Diana Merida, Spain


CENTRE D’ÉDUCATION INCLUSIF Elementary School / Community Center Petit Goave, Haiti




AN ARCHITECTURAL MODEL FOR SILICON VALLEY SPRING 2017 | Bachelor Thesis Advisors: Timur Dogan & Vincent Mulcahy The thesis focuses on the problems brought about by rapid urbanization within the San Francisco Bay Area, particularly in what we know now as ‘Silicon Valley’. Silicon Valley today is obviously of major importance nationally & economically because of the venture capitalist culture that Stanford and successful startups have instated over the years. But taking a step back, one finds that before becoming the tech hubs of the country, these cities were actually nothing more than small agricultural towns: places of community and engagement which ultimately provided a sense of place that is now longed for. Many of these communities have remnants that persist and that are actively sought out for by various demographic groups. The project aims to identify and bridge the large-scale urban limitations evident in cities all across the Valley, and thus propose a new model for development— a model that can tap into the community-forming aspects of the past, as well as the existing potential for the future. Operating at many scales, the proposal tries to address a broader regional network of transit, while simultaneously introducing smaller scale architectural connections that can promote better, dense environments locally.

For the full-length research book, visit:



Silicon Valley today is a predominantly suburban area that has, as of recently, come to know a

new typology: the tech campus. The existing campus paradigm aims to create an insular, pseudourban environment, where all the needs of the user are met without the city. Yet even with such incentives, many still prefer to commute from San Francisco rather than live locally, which brings many problems to both areas.

Oracle | Redwood City

Facebook | Menlo Park

HP | Palo Alto

Google & Microsoft Reseach | Mountainview

Apple | Cupertino

Netflix | Los Gatos

IBM Research | San Jose


bove: aerial imagery of the major centers of tech development. In most cases, expansion takes place alongside suburbia, with little to no embodiment of the previous surrounding.


Portland, Oregon North Dakota



South Dakota


Iowa Nebraska


Columbus, Ohio

Urbana & Champaign, Illinois

San Mateo Santa Clara

Kansas Missouri Blacksburg, Virginia


Nashville, Tennessee

Charlotte, North Carolina

2x Dallas, Texas

Recently, a new wave of development of similar character has started in other small towns across the US.

Austin, Texas

traffic & lack of pedestrian ways

isolation caused by mayor roads

realestate pressure & rent pricing

disparate communities & gentrification


San Mateo Park $257,972

Skyfarm $328,599

in the area has come at a great cost, essentially making the existing model of urbanization in the Valley flawed and unsustainable. Development has long started, but as it stands, there has also been a substantial worsening of walkability and gentrification issues. This urban analysis aims to dissect some of the principal problems.


FOSTER CITY Hillsborough Kolls $286,346

Brewer Subdivision $519,024







Parrot Drive Area $303,189















ins -4






Atherton $340,915


MENLO PARK 10-12 min

Woodside $316,019

Crescent Park $295,381


Central Menlo Park $333,990 12-1 4m







1 8-


Professorville $268,064 s

Leland Manor $264,277

2 min





Downtown / Historic Small Town Center




6 min



Wealthy Neighborhoods in Silicon Valley & Mean Household Income

s 20-23 min



Stanford / Palo Alto as reference point

Research Park Barron Park $258,759


Commute time to Palo Alto with private car






AFFLUENT RESIDENTS Includes: University Faculty, CEOs, Founders & High Corporate Titles Central Los Altos $269,924


Senior Manager, Mid-Career, Designers, Porduct Managers, Directors & up Portola Valley $296,255




Average Salaries


Google: $151,600-$394,175 per year Facebook: $149,300-$277,478 per year Apple: $145,400-$278,628 per year Tesla: $118,500-$145,755 per year HP: $104,200-$614,324 per year

Los Altos Hills $338,932

Stanford Faculty

Woodland Acres The Highlands $260,289

Average Salary $280,449 per year x 1,063 total faculty = $298,117,287 per year (59% of annual expediture)

CAN AFFORD HOUSING: $2 million + homes







Demolish Replaced by Denser Residential

Demolish Replaced by Denser Residential

Demolish / Expand Replaced by Denser Residential

MEDIUM MULTI-FAMILY Demolish / Expand Replaced by Denser Residential

SMALL MULTI-FAMILY WITH STORE FRONTS Construct / Expand Must provide commercial program at Ground Level

MEDIUM MULTI- FAMILY WITH OFFICE SPACE Demolish / Expand Replaced by Denser Residential Must Provide Semi-Public Corridors

MEDIUM MULTI-FAMILY Construct To replace Single Family Housing Requires Supplementary Program at Ground OR Walkable / Bikeable fronts

LARGE MULTI-FAMILY Demolish / Expand Densified Height Increase possible, must provide commmercial

MEDIUM / LARGE MULTI-FAMILY WITH COMMERCIAL / OFFICE Construct / Expand Must Prodvide Supplementary Program at Ground Level Requires proximity to public spaces and ammenities Requires easy access to public transport

The proposal adopts the middle ground, an industrial

strip, as the setting for a new urban scene to emerge, one where increased density and commercial activity can create more active and walkable spaces. The result is a new downtown, which feeds into a larger network that could expand across the entire Bay Area. Within, redevelopment can occur following sufficient market pressure. For this, a scale of urbanization was determined, where the smaller single family units are most vulnerable to change.

LARGE MULTI-FAMILY Construct Requires public spaces and ammenities nearby Requires pedestrian and bikeable fronts Requires easy access to public transport



BERLIN COLD WAR MEMORIAL SPRING 2016 | Berlin, Germany Professor: Werner Goehner The site at the Nordbahnhof is charged because of its location at the intersection between East and West. Following this logic, the proposal aims to create an urban intervention that can both mark a space and oblige its visitors to engage with the building, whether they are just passing or fully immersing themselves into the Cold War material. By acknowledging the wide spectrum of human movement in the area, the building sets an urban arena where each form of movement can be touched upon. Whether by car, by foot, tram or metro, one always comes in contact with the building. The imposing form of the building is a statement, yet it also divides the program of the information center in two parts: the exhibitions and the archives. These in turn are subject to the spatial by-products of elevation or subtraction, such as the lack or excess of natural daylight. The building also works as a bridge, a means of making public spaces (two corridors), along which the programs are housed. The negative spaces, like the empty spaces under the hovering structure, or the remaining plaza above the incission and skylights, also become spaces for informal gathering or appropriation. Finally, the form of the building is subject to sensible manipulations, where it responds and adjusts itself to the surrounding context without losing the integrity of the whole.



+4 lan P

+3 lan P +2 lan P

+1 lan P



exactly at the intersection of what was once East and West, the Berlin Nordbahnhof is one of the many ‘Ghost Stations’ found throughout the city. For decades, these stations were unique and forbidden gateways between the BRD and the DDR. The proposal’s shape not only marks this intersection, but aims to revitalize the area by opening it up to the public.

The cross, though bold in form, has small distortions that adjust to its surroundings, in every case, creating public gathering areas that are both practical and leisurely. Moreover, the building tries to recognize all forms of transportation and all speeds, such that the memory of the Cold War can always be experienced, even in the most transitory way.




Villa Müller, Vienna Adolf Loos introspective Hypermaterialized Corner

Professors: Ramón Bosch & Bet Capdeferro Adrià Escolano (T.A.)


Humankind is the only species gifted with the capacity to develop the ART OF DWELLING. The room is the basic built cell that seeks to meet the physical needs of humans and at the same time their spiritual aspirations. The room is determined and at the same time infinite. The objective of the studio was to configure a human habitat through a process of sequential addition of rooms intertwined with a site. Room by room. Establishing a working process in which every decision becomes the point of departure for the next. In order to do this, parallel narratives of the parts and the whole were sensitively cultivated. The design methodology is unconventional. By creating a series of ‘constellations’, the ephemeral and atmospheric qualities associated with the act of dwelling are explored from the eye of the architect. The result is always unexpected. Meanwhile, weekly ‘burglaries’ of ideas and concepts from a variety of sources were encouraged, thus making the process of production equally as important as the end result. Each room houses an essential activity of human life: eat, store, sleep, bathe, read, write, and daydream. The proposed site is a magnificent Mediterranean ecosystem: a Delta, where water and rice patties form a vast landscape of infinity.


warm / cozy





cool / fresh


day dreaming


House with 3 Courts Mies Van der Rohe expansive Dematerialized Corner


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the Delta is understood as a series of intersections happening at all scales, from its own relationship to the mainland, to the nature of its rice patties. Here, intersections happen everywhere, in two and three dimensions. In plan, the limits of the field, the organization of water lines, as well as of the houses and lamp posts, are always in relationship to the corner. These corners often turn into vertical surfaces (fences and posts) that challenge our initial conception of the site as flat. By empowering the corner, the proposed sequence of rooms attempts to express the intimacy, the surprise, and the wonder experienced when one turns around the corner into something new, something unexpected.


Materiality is the binding element for

the narrative. The chosen portion of the site is special given that it holds the last remaining line of wooden electric posts. Traditionally, the wood from these posts was recycled and used for building, but today only one line of these remains. Taking into consideration the Delta’s long history of woodcraft in vernacular architecture, a craft now in danger of disappearing completely, the project uses wood as the ultimate expression of character for each room and each activity. For each room, a distinctive element is highlighted, one which is integral to the experience of eating, sleeping, writing, dreaming‌




1,70 - 1,80 m


Shade -grown 40 x 20 cm big + fine Capa is purely made with Corojo leaf

Corojo Plant used for the capa exterior layer Sun grown

FALL 2016 | Havana, Cuba

“Ligeros” + taste “Seco” + aroma

Professor: Tao Sule DuFour

“Volado” Combustibility

“Capote” + taste

Criollo Plant used for the capote + tripa interior layers

The tobacco industry in Cuba has been, and continues to be, one of the largest and most culturally significant on the island. Its importance today and in the future lies beyond the commodity or its economic revenue, but in the spectacle that surrounds it, a phenomenon which has gradually embedded itself into a form of national identity. The production process of a cuban cigar, in itself, is a very sensitive and layered series of operations, none of which are mechanized, and all of which have a strong sense of tradition and connection to the land (Pinar del Rio) and the leaf. The process always culminates in the factory building, a typology which over the centuries can be linked closely to the urban development of Havana as a whole, and yet remained unchanged. Today, this landscape of factories is disappearing, a product of the post1959 nationalization of the industry. This proposal acknowledges the potential of the street to be an armature for future spectacle. It anticipates a change in the economic circumstance (a full lifting of the embargo and the loss of forbiddenness of the cigar) and advocates for a full embrace of this festival-esque performance. But most importantly, it aims to reinterpret the relationship between producer and consumer.


1810 Tobacco Factory

“Ligada” the recipe

Capote - 1/4 vein




Tripa - 1/2 vein

Catadores (tasters)

molding of tripa + preparation of capote

foldig of capote over the tripa (”tirolo”)

molding + pressing of the cigar cutting of the capa leaf

rolling of capa over tirulo

making of the “gorro”


second fermentation


elaboration of the “perilla”

finishing the cigar

first fermentation



With the Cuba Revolution, the tobacco industry is nationalized and placed under the auspices of state-owned Cubatabaco

de Tabaco is the only manufacturer of machine-made cigars.

20....? With the end of the embargo in view, the tobacco industry will transform once again. Opening to a new market would raise demand, as well as morph the urban fabric into a tourist themselves will remain, and hence project new opportunities for reappropriation appear. Perhaps with a mixed program?



United States embargo against Cuba

Tabacuba consolidates the production of their various brands into key factories.

tobacco market closes.


State develops a 5 year plan to increase tobacco production by 20% each year, in anticipation for which they want to be ready. Plantation workers, whoever, are not sure they will keepp up with the deman that is expected.

2009-14 Tobacco Crisis cultivation declines by 65% to 23,733 acres Exports go down 58%


1700-1810 1700 - 1810


1810-1899 1810-1899

1899-1924 1899-1924

1924-1959 1924-1959

1959-2016 2016

Third level used to prepare raw material for the cigar, leaves are divided and categorized.

La Galera Vast room with master rollers; often El Lector was hired to read to them as they work

Final stages of production of the cigar are performed in the second floor

Receiving and storing of the bales with leaves from Pinar del Rio store & smoking rooms


s the city grew from Old Havana inward, so did the topography of factories throughout, especially in Habana Centro. Today, this landscape of factories is disappearing, a product of the nationalization of the industry. Modern Havana, among other things, is a palimpsest of ghost factories. Within this imaginary city of factories, some areas stand out as loci of industrial and cultural activity. One of these is the Calle Belascoaín, on which the project is located. It is one of the most active streets in central Havana, at one moment in time housing 5-6 tobacco factories simultaneously. Today, two in particular are still fully functioning and are perhaps amongst the most important factory names in all Havana: the Fábrica Romeo y Julieta and the Fábrica Pártagas. In both cases, the factory, through its facade, places itself as a sort of palazzo along the street armature, with an implied dominance over its urban surroundings. Yet, within, it has a normative floor slab system that adapts only to regularized production.


ground floor plan

Consumption is no longer seen as just

the purchasing or smoking of the cigar, rather it encompasses everything from the outsider’s experience of the production to all of the secondary and tertiary activities that the product allows for: leisure, gastronomy, and education (archives and exhibitions). On the other hand, the productive side is equally activated. It involves an elevation of the worker, as someone who is not just being observed, but who is also the observer.


The design involves, for one of the factories, a complete re-programming of the interior, to transform it from a production facility to a set of museum, garden, and leisure spaces. For the other factory, the design is focused more on a re-imagining of the production space, turning it into a layered sensory experience for the visitor and a more spectacular joint experience for the worker as well.

plan +1

plan +2

plan +3

roof plan



TRANSFORMATIVE ARCHITECTURE SPRING 2013 | Ithaca, NY Professors: Val Warke & Jim Williamson The objective of this studio was to defamiliarize architectural forms, such that a different, performative architecture could emerge. The transformation begins with a precedent, in this case, the House with Three Courts project by Mies Van der Rohe. The project embodies basic architectural concepts, which were extracted and investigated in detail, both two and three-dimensionally. An interpretive model identified the house’s major components while diagrams served to reinforce these concepts. The house was then re-interpreted through a series of operations that performed on the major components of the house identified before, such as the outer-wall enclosure, the columns, and the grid. The sequence diagrams that follow represent each of these components as they ongo each manipulation. As an experiment, the resulting architecture was then combined with a similar interpretive model of the Bordeaux House by OMA, thus resulting in a hybrid, from which the fourth series of the sequence derived. Finally, the defamiliarized models were interpreted back into an architectural program, where the could serve as an archaeological library, working site, and residence within a materialized site. In this generated scenario, the project incoporated the site (an abandoned mill ruin) while maintaining the lessons learned from the previous hybrids. 30

Hand-Drafted Operations Diagrams


The House with Three Courts project

by Mies, from a first glance, proves to have a fairly strict and geometrical order that orchestrates the organization of space at all scales within the house, from the smaller 1x1m square grid of the tile to a larger implied grid of 10x10m. Interpretive diagrams analyze the project as episodes of overlapping spaces, where interior walls are always somewhat misaligned and rooms are never fully enclosed. Moreover, the house is seen as having two different systems coexisting within a strongly demarcated perimeter: a strict square grid that extends across the field and an autonomous grid system that results from the partition walls within.


First Interpretive Model

Hybrid Models


RUIN + FRAGMENT MUSEUM FOR THE TEMPLE OF DIANA FALL 2013 | Ithaca, NY Professor: David E. Moon This project explores micro design in three different stages: Small, Medium, and Large. Architectural intervention here is seen as the manipulation of single surfaces (a wall or a floor plate) to create smaller scale surfaces integral to creating further defined spaces (seating, openings, storage, etc). At a small scale, the resulting architecture is a room, a vestibule that can be adapted and appropriated by the user, and where a single surface can serve multiple uses. The conglomeration of multiple of these small venues results in a medium scale architecture, where the fragmentary nature of the dwelling is pushed further. The plan is now conceived as a surface that allows for its own manipulation: the folding over of the floor yields a wall and a balcony opening, and the folding over of that same wall can yield a seat or a shelf. At the large scale, all of these elements are combined, creating a complex vertical structure that is enigmatic both for the visitor inside and the visitor outside. The site is the archaeological site surrounding the Temple of Diana in Merida, Spain. The proposal is a tower, that situates itself far way from the ruin rather than in its near vicinity. By doing so, the museum respects the temple and allows for better views. As one moves up, thanks to the micro-design language of the surfaces, one experiences the temple as it is, in fragments.




mall: An adaptive dressing vestibule. Heights and widths of the surface manipulations are varied so that multiple body types can appropriate them. Units can be aggregated to create a larger corridor. Medium: A conceptual extension of the aggregate. A bigger, pavilion-like space can be created with folding manipulations to the floor surface. A similar language would carry on the the design of the Large unit.


Large: A vertical structure for the observation of the temple ruin.

Above left: A sectional model showing expanded underground archives. Above right: The tower shown in context with its visual link to the ruin. Left: Plans of all levels above ground— each level is connected by a staircase; throughout, wall openings and seats are created to manipulate visibility both to the archaeological site and to activity on other floors.



ELEMENTARY SCHOOL / COMMUNITY CENTER SPRING 2014 | Ithaca, NY Professor: George Hascup Partner: Jaimie Choi

This proposal for a school provides a two-wing program where structure and envelope work together to create an open learning / living environment that maintains spontaneity and flexibility for discovery. The school is located in Petit Goave, Haiti, where it serves as a mediator between the highly dense urban sector and the more isolated coast front. Considering the social and political turmoil in the area over the past years, this architecture emphasizes on inclusion and stability. The school is essentially divided in two parts or wings, each of which is juxtaposed with a contrasting portion of the site. The relationship between landscape and architectural intervention is crucial in delineating educational spaces while still leaving room for undiscovered corners. The introduction of a chapel at the end of the site acts as a destination point where all the community comes together. Meanwhile, all of these elements for part of a visual axis, where awareness of each part of the complex and one’s procession through it is key. Flexibility and adaptation of the space by the occupants were very important when designing the interiors, particularly the partition walls that enclose the classrooms. By using a porous, grid-like structure, these bamboo walls can serve as storage walls, as well as playful mediators between public and private. 38




tructure, in addition to envelope, form part of an effort to address some of the climatic and programmatic challenges in the site. The use and distribution of water through ponds and storage mechanisms, in conjunction with deliberate perforations that allow for airflow and light introduction, are all methods of creating a fresh environment amid a somewhat troubled setting.


Minute construction details were

resolved so that the building offers flexibility and safety. Choice of the building materials and structural systems take into consideration the seismic nature of the area and its hurricane-prone climate. They also acknowledge the scarcity of building supplies and try to make the most of what is already available.



thank you



last updated November 2017

América Castillo - Architecture Portfolio  

Selected Works: 2012-2017

América Castillo - Architecture Portfolio  

Selected Works: 2012-2017