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SEMESTER01PROFESSOR A.PITERA Abstraction. The execution of origami requires the ability to conceptualize in two dimensions, what must be transformed into three dimensions. In the following explorations, standard design tools and methods were used to manipulate and understand specific pieces of origami. After sketching perspectives, sections, and elevations, 2D and 3D forms were reinterpreted and examined. With this expanded vocabulary of origami, ‘pods’ were created to uniquely house the specific pieces of origami. This method of exploration was expanded to create a shelter fit specifically for a homeless person, and then to create a ‘skin’ for a tree that was equally unique.





A blank piece of paper holds many possibilities, but as one begins to make permenant creases, folds, and bends in it, its final form becomes increasingly apparent. Likewise, when releasing the origami from its pod, it must be removed one side at a time, gradually exposing the contents within. In doing so, one not only gains a better view of the origami, but a better understanding of the structure of the origami as well. By exploiting the sturdy nature of the origami, the pod becomes truly dependent on the unique piece of origami it houses. In fact, the pod ceases to be complete without the origami. As each side is removed, it reveals strips of material that had apeared as missing on the exterior and now frame the form of the origami on the interior. These strips flatten out as the pod is removed, concealing themselves within the monolithic material that is the pod. This flatness is reminiscent of the unused origami paper, full of possibilities, yet lacking a purpose or structure.




Inspired by origami, this homeless shelter was constructed out of a single 4’x8’ sheet of cardboard and without adhesives. This shelter was designed to be placed around a metal garbage can within which, warm embers from a fire could be kept. The can would transfer that heat to the core of the occupant’s body, and the shelter’s peaked roof would allow excess heat to escape. Storage space was created to emphasize a sense of belonging and ownership in the shelter.



‘Skin’ is any wrapping, casing, or exterior sheathing that exists entirely for and because of the contents it contains. In many ways, the skin of a thing projects the message, meaning, or identity of its contents. ‘Tree’ is a much more simple concept to define, but is equally complex in concrete form. The specificness of skin required that a particular tree be identified for this exploration. The tree in this project marks the place where a past lover once confided that they would go to conduct all of their serious contemplations in times of crisis. The context establishd by the tree’s old age, and thick, extended branches that reached out into the neighborhing tree-scape was both humbling and comforting. The tree’s location within a public park, far off any main pedestrian route, made the space around the tree ideal for spending time alone and looking deep into one’s own life. To emphasize the reflective nature of the space around the tree, the ‘skin’ creates an exoskeleton of sorts whose form appears to swirl upwards and around the tree as it reaches toward the sky. The structure of the skin is comprised of large plates shaped to fit the negative space between branches at various elevations.


(Left) Map showing the tree’s location (shown as a red star) within the park. At the far right is a lake and along side the lake is a public recreation facility and various pathways for pedestrians and vehicles.

(Below) Section sketch depicting the location of the tree (located in the upper left corner of the sketch) with respect to the pathway which must be taken to reach the base of the tree. One must cross a field, go over a hill, and through a dense grouping of trees before reaching the tree. The tree stands taller than all other trees surrounding it, making it a landmark for those who know to look for it.

Structural plates overlap as they spiral upward around the trunk of the tree. They are penetrated with hollow, triangular, acrylic prisms that capture and reflect light as it hits the top of the tree. In the summer, when the woods are green and dense, the reflected light bounces amongst the leaves of the neighborhing trees. In the winter, when the trees are bare, the colors of the prisms reflect off the snow covered ground making the ground beneath the tree an attractive puddle of colors in an otherwise barren landscape.



SEMESTER02PROFESSOR A.PITERA Much like the manipulation of paper into 3D forms, the sewing of fabric requires an understanding of how 2D materials can be assembled to create something more complex and comprehensive. The architectural qualities inherent in quilting provides a solid metaphor for approaching the built environment. By abstracting a Gee’s Bend quilt, various paintings and 3D sculptures were created as color theory and materiality were investigated. Through this process, the quilt became a way of seeing and understanding space. After selecting quilt-like spaces from the real world, they were conveyed through the flattened quilt-world by reducing them to 2D paintings. The lessons learned by this process were used to design meditation pods.





Water has been associated with meditation across a variety of cultures and for a period of time spanning thousands of years. This meditation pod celebrates water as a cleansing and rejuvenating element. Located along a proposed bike path in the Eastern Market neighborhood of Detroit, the meditation pod brings life back to an un-used water tower and invites pedestrians to take a break and explore. Curiosity is rewarded as explorers find spaces by climbing under, on, in, and above water. The cascading water provides a filtering effect for those who are relaxing inside the pod. The industrial buildings and other pedestrian are blured from view by the falling water, and noises of the city are dampened by the splashing of water. A 2’x2’ grid was used to create the plan of the meditation pod. This spacing, often between steps, requires that explorers take their time as they move in and out of the pod. It also also makes moving about more exciting for children who may have to leap from space to space.




SEMESTER03PROFESSOR N.RESNICK Projects begin and end with the client, for whom the architect must establish a clear and compelling narrative that illustrates the effectiveness of his or her design. This semester explored stories that were given, some that where fabricated, and some that were unknown entirely. While the stories that are provided to us allow for a quick design process, it is often the stories which are discovered, learned, or uncovered, that bring us the best insights into the world. The first narrative of the semester was of the unknown type, and it began with this jar.


When an object’s origin is known, it makes it much easier to design around. When asked to design a container that could be shipped using standard shipping requirements, for a ‘place setting’ which I had bought from a second-hand store, I chose to find inspiration in the story of the place setting (which happens to be a jar) itself, rather than fabricate a story of my own to impose upon the jar. The result, is this container, which houses the snacking jar. The design comes from the story the jar tells as you open it; the tension and compression felt when the clasp is undone and the metal handle is pulled away. The wrapping used to ship the container is expressive of the form of the jar inside, and the drastic difference in materials as one unwraps the container provides the excitement of releasing the clasp on the jar for the first time.

The base of the container is lined with cork (near left) which cushions the jar. The two notches in the cork inform the user how to align the jar with respect to its metal handle which protrudes from either side of the jar. The exterior of the container’s base (far left) is made of plexiglass which protects the exterior of the container. The plexiglass is attached to the cork using concentric rings of adhesive which mimick the concentric rings inside the jar’s lid.

The exterior wrapping around the container protects the plexiglass shell from scratching during transpot. The aluminum band cushions the wooden tips that extrend through the pelxiglass shell. The overall form of this wrapping imitates the form of the jar inside. Its crude materiality and assemblyl contrasts greatly with the complex continer within.



Each active piece of the container is either in tension or compression. Without the Jar inside, the wood forms (which express the movement of the metal handle of the jar) fall to the ground and the container looks as if something was broken. With the jar inside however, the wood forms come to life and the entire assembly appears as if it was going to burst open.



Given a chair by our professor, my team and I were required to deconstruct it to better understand it and the potential it contained. We were asked to re-assemble the chair as something entirely new and different. During the deconstruction process, we discovered that the chair was extremely sturdy and difficult to manipulate. The sharpness and weight of the metal left an impression on us. To attempt to change this impression, we decided to turn the chair into something that appeared light, and easily manipulated. We came up with the idea of “Squirrel Chimes� that make noise when squirrels engage with it during their persuit to gather nuts. While the assembly of the heavy pieces proved to be as difficult as the disassembling of them, our team managed to create a new object that appeared much lighter and whimsical.



SEMESTER04PROFESSOR G.SUNGHERA The fourth semester of undergraduate studies continued to utilize the narrative as a means of driving the design process, but was enriched by an expansion into a more complex architectural scale. After participating in a design charette with students at the Illinois Institute of Technology, we returned to Detroit to continue invesigating the same Chicago site, but with the application of an entirely new program. Influenced by our experiences exploring the site with our peers, we developed a more refined sense of the Bronsville neighborhood that the site was located in, and brought these insites to our designs. Finding the right tone became key for applying new ideas to the sensative site with a rich historical backgrond and a close bond with the local community.


The Bronzeville community is sensitive to its historically important roots. While the destruction of the Pilgrim Baptist Church devastated the community, the preservation of the original stone facade is evidence of the community’s responsiveness to the church’s significance. Strong ties with the community brings fortch the establishment of the Thomas Dorsey Center for Voice. This museum will stand as a showcase of outlandish orators, a tribute to Chicago’s roll as the Windy City. The museum will also serve as a public facility, educating visitors about oratory arts. The structure will need to reflect that this museum is a showcase of the bombastic and not simply a historical experience. The site must also reflect that this building was and still should be a strong part of the Bronzeville community.

Original Building Elevation

Initial Intervention Concept

What remains of the original structure is the masonry foundation of the building and the four lower facades. The horrific destruction of the building lends the site to commentary on the significant imact that orators have had on history, exceeding just the comentary on the local hisorical figures who have spoken here.



Provided with original architectural drawings (far left), the remaining facade was first reconfigured to create a new experience of the building’s original height (middle image). The final design is a revision of this idea and a better suit for the surrounding neighborhood and the programatic demands of the museum (below).

Original Worship Space

The building’s original place of oration was large and demanding (near left). To recreate this experience without replicating the original, an inversionof the previous roof’s structure was proposed to create a skeleton that would support a new translucent floor system from which oration could take place. This floor offers views below to the galleries and exhibits yet provides the experience of the original volume of the space. A small entrance lobby demands that guests lower their voices to hear tour guides, who would then lead guests down an introductory passage which would offer guests glimpses of the gallery they are about to enter.


The basement level (below) contains the primary exhibition space. A grid of disply modules (sketch at left) presents artifacts, text, and digital media. The grid allows visitors to encounter the material differently depending on which axis they follow. For example, viewing the exhibits in one direction may present various characteristic groupings of information based on a specific orator, while viewing on the other axis may present information about various orators with respec to one characterisitc. Visitors may choose to meander arbitrarily through the grid, taking in only the information which grasps their attention the most.

The stage, or primary place of pontification, is remmebered through a simplified massing of the church’s original altar space. Here, natural lighting is incorporated with light-wells where religious paintings once hung. The rear of the building is completed with a curtain wall and skylights that cloak the speaker in shadowy contrast until a curtain is drawn and the speaker is illuminated from within the building. This enables pedestrians to clearly see the speaker during his or her pre-speech preparations, adding to the oratory education component of the building.




SEMESTER05PROFESSOR W.FUCHS This electronic design studio utilized various deigital tools including Revit, AutoCAD, and 3dsMax to aid in not only the representation of architectural information, but also in its creation and development as well. This studio re-imagines the Detroit neighborhood of Core City. An early site analysis highlighted the quaintness of the old buildings on the site, despite their aged, weathered, and sometimes abused conditions. The phenomena surrounding these older homes was investigaed by designing new living spaces that could evoke these similar, yet not quite nistalgic, feelings. Materiality became a huge factor in creating a sense of tradition, but also one of re-birth and togetherness.


The neighborhood of Core City is recognized for its central location within Detroit, but the few recent developments in the area have failed to create an environment that families find desirable. Examining the various levels of privacy that are needed within a family home, a duplex was developed as part of the Core City Community plan. The most heavily investigated space is the entrance vestibule which also houses the stairs for the second floor residents. By opening up this space to the outside, using earthy materials such as stone and wood to balance the use of glass and aluminum, and by utilizing ‘buffer’ materials such as translucent concrete along semi-public walls, the connection from space to space has been increased on a sensitive level. With this increase in connectivity, residents will be provided with a healthier sense of community. Glass-railed balconies provide parents with perfect views of their children as they play outside.

(Above) Upper Unit Plan (Below) Front, Side, and Rear Elevations

Translucent Concrete Wall




2009: “3D-Max Exercise: Chair” 2009: “Pickles” 2010: “Core City Residential Massing” 2010: “Time and Space” 2010: “Core City, Detroit”


SEMESTER06PROFESSOR T.HEIDGERKEN International studies can expose one to a world of new ideas, lifestyles, and experiences. This semester was spent in Warsaw, Poland studying at the Politechnika Warszawska. The primary design studio project of the semester was the creation of a new center for design in an old, financially challanged part of Warsaw named Praga. Initially, an intervention for the site was designed to address the resistance that local residents would have to changes in their neighborhood. The concepts from this initial intervention were furthred with the design of the school itself. In the following scheme, the primary goal is to get the public excited about design, and to humble the students with the knowledge that comes from non-designers in the community-at-large.


The rediscovery of Praga, a less-than-fabulous side of Warsaw, will be brought about by bridging the gaps between old and new: generations, materials, styles, and functions. This initial intervention will use existing materials to suggest the potential for new and diverse interactions. An unused structure will be deconstructed to create a public gallery in which locals and visitors may pass through freely. Current residents will be drawn to the space through curiosity about their own neighborhood. Visitors will come to see the works that will be displayed in the gallery that is created. Political and social topics of changing exhibits will test the waters between groups.




Historical Housing Complex New Development Existing Development

Residential Complex Retail + Residential

Retail + Residential Historic Religious School Complex

The various voids located within the building are each designed to house certain functions. However, the experience of these functions is significantly altered based on the time of day, weather, and the number of people in the space. This creates a variance in experience of the building and program. Explorers of the site may come to shop or drink coffee, but may find themselves partaking in a critique, discussing student work, sitting in on a lecture, or simply eavesdropping on students as they talk in their studio. Circulation through the site rewards curiotisy.

The Praga Design Academy seeks to leverage the international design community as an investment resource for the city of Warsaw. As globalization challenges the existance of diverse cultures, Praga continues a slow process of westernization and modernization. With articulation of Praga’s past thinning, Praga Design Academy students are asked to examine the dichotomy between globalization and cultural preservation. The form of the Praga Design Academy depicts a state of flux in Praga. First, a strict, regular form relating to the streets and adjacent buildings with repetitious, unitized fenestration and an articulation of ‘base’ that grounds the building in its place. Secondly, a direct obliteration of the expected rythem; the building is sliced back at the critical corner where it opens up its private ‘courtyard’ to reveal public shops. Flanking this slice is a series of terraced forms like those of shifting triangulations.

The lower coffee shop at main entrance to Praga Design Academy also serves as a presentation space for students.


Floor 3

Floor 1

Floor 2

Floor 0

The indoor gallery. A grid of windows juxtaposes triangular forms that direct both the eye and the foot through the building. The experience of this space is one of contemplation. A drop cieling grid acts as a display system for the installation of suspended works, but also continues the grid system across the cieling and through the studio space where a large opening reveals the heavily lit work environment of the students. Further exploration of this space reveals an entrance to the theater, bowling alley, coffee shop, and outdoor exhibition space. Floor -1


SPACIAL ENCOUNTERS A stepped lecture hall and theater space provides a casual environment for presentations that can be open to the public. The stage is located below the stuido space, where trap doors allow theater props to be built and lowered from. Lighting controls are accessed from the student living space.

The canyon-like light well separates the artist housing from the student spaces. It also brings light into the building and activates each space differently as the sun changes position.

Artist and Public Housing Complex

A circulation corridor conects Skaryszewska Street to the artist housing, bowling alley, theater and shops while passing over a glass floor revealing the mechanics of a pin-setting machine below.

The upper coffee shop utilizes a balcony to allow the sounds of the bolwing alley to penetrate the coffee shop. Views to the indoor art gallery and into the bolwing alley are created by a jagged slice through the wall. This slice also allows light from the theater space to appear, signaling activity within.

Student living spaces consisting of suite style rooms with shared bathrooms above, and irregular shaped rooms with multiple arrangements and community bathrooms below. The top level also contains a shared kitchen and study spaces. The upper floor is open to the studio space below and is joined to it by a terraced living space that provides the students a place to work and socialize and doubles as a lecture space. The studio space is open to the indoor gallery via a raised opening allowing viewers to interact with students while they work, but without allowing spectators into the studio space. A large glass wall lets in light and views of the busy intersection outside.

Administrative Housing and Offices

East Facing Section Located at the bottom of the building is a blowling alley. This allows for year round activity from people of all ages. The bowling alley is accessable from the indoor gallery, the circulation corridor, and from the coffee shop.


A coffee shop provides a venue for a wide variety of encounters, attracting people from the busy Targowa Street as well as locals from the large residential neighborhood.



A rendering depicting the experience of rain as it falls on the terraced spaces of the ‘slice’ occupied by the coffee shop, and viewed by the student work space. Water activates the space as it is collected from the roof and channeled into a water feature.

A commercial space appears to emerge from the ground as its sloped roof forms a public green space, connecting the main pedestrian pathway to the Praga Design Academy. Where this roof path meets with the Praga Design Academy, the building is split apart with glass walls in a canyon-like light well, at the bottom of which sits a an outdoor gallery for student work. It leads to a direct entrance to the indoor gallery space, passing by the glass wall of the theater/ lecture space, views down to a circulation corridor and Skaryszewska Street, and views up to student windows, artist apartment balconies, and the open sky.

The canyon-like lightwell which flanks both the student housing and the artist housing provides an outdoor gallery space, just outside the theater/ lecture space, which can be used as a public space when unoccupied by student projects.

Pet owners will enjoy the wide, vegetation-filled path that runs through the site, but they may be drawn into a craftmen’s shop when they catch a glimpse of him etching a new dog tag for their neighbor.




SEMESTER07PROFESSOR J.ODOERFER The integrated design studio. Focused on incorporating current architectural and accessability codes into the design of buildings, this studio paired students together to redevelope the UDM campus to include an architectural library and a student theater. Adjacent to the student plaza, these buildings were required to meet the various codes and tecnhical specifications provided to us. Utilizing Google SketchUp and Autodesk Revit, the following theater was designed for the UDM campus with structural, acoustical, HVAC, lighting, and material investigations.


The Titan Theater was designed to house up to 500 audience members with consideration for the parking needs of both the theater and the architecture building located adjacent to it. A large drop-off circle allows children to be dropped off for summer programs, and the paved space extending from it, between the theater and the architecture building, allows for collaboration between the two programs with regards to set design. The theater-student spcaes, includeing the rehearsal room, face the public-student spaces on campus such as the Titan Dining Room, giving the program the presence and recognition it deserves.




(Left) Section revealing material usage. (Above) Acoutsitc Diagrams. (Far Right Top) Structural model. (Far Right Middle) Lighting Model. (Far Right Bottom) Perspective Section Model.

(Above) First Floor Plan. (Top Right) Second Floor Plan. (Bottom Right) HVAC Plan.


SEMESTER08PROFESSOR G.SUNGHERA The relationship of a community to a power greater than itself (God for the three major Abrahamic faiths) has influenced the development of worship spaces and urban landscapes for centuries. Liturgical life engages believers in collective responses that require physical space. The Catholic faith in general has engaged many architectural styles through its 2000 plus year history; corresponding to a believer’s understanding of space and transcendence at that period of time. In addition, the placement and access of these houses of worship have changed over time. Detroit’s catholic population has shifted, and the city is filled with many large churches that no longer are practical for contemporary whoship. There is a small but growing youth and young adult population emerging in the city that deals with religion in a different manner than pervious generations. The projects in this semester helped to bridge the spiritual needs of the youth population and connect them to tradition. The initial project was a redeisgn of the student mosque on the Detroit Mercy campus and concluded with a Roman Catholic worship space.


Spiritual spaces often challenge the built environment to embody the honesty of the natural world. Integral to this challenge is the handling of light. With the allocation of the UDM student Mosque in the basement of an existing building, Islamic students are challenged to commit themselves to salat (prayer) in an environment void of natural light. The absence of sunlight provides an opportunity to question the significance of light as it pertains to spirituality. This design proposes that darkness may become a pallet for reflection, in contrast to light, which is often associated with physical as well as cognitive illumination. The continuity and progression of salat, are symbolized by a standard drop-cieling-grid that extends from an adjacent lobby space into the Mosque. The physical demand of daily prayer is celebrated by the wearing-down of a thick wooden form that creates both the floor and cieling in parts fo the mosque. With each step towards prayer, beginning with removing shoes and ending with the prayer itself, the cieling grid is rotated and overlaid upon the previous grid. The culmination of grids becomes most dense over the prayer space. The Western end of the prayer space hosts a gliding partition wall that moves along a fixed track separating sexes during prayer and locks into the continuous wooden form concecaling storage. The wooden form wraps upward creating seating before wrapping overhead to conceal lighting and air-conditioning utilities.



An extrusion of the cieling grid extends downward to create a privacy screen in front of the ablution space. Here, contrasting light shadows the individual using the space and their hands are illuminated as they extend above the sink.

In the prayer space, reflective wall treatments on the Northern and Western walls suggests an infinite continuation of the decorative cileing grid. A gradient applied to these mirrored surfaces provides that the lower parts of the walls do not reflect light, eliminating distractions when prostrating. The North East corner of the prayer space hosts an illuminated pannel recognizing the direction of Mecca.

The wooden form that creates the floor, table, and seating, terminates at the floor where it conceals necessary plumbing.

The entrance vestibule is angled towards Mecca so that the initial experience of removing one’s shoes is aligned with the final experience of prayer. Through glass walls, shoes left in this space are a visual sign to those in the lobby that this an inviting space that also requires respect.


Academic Design Works  

Undergraduate Architecture Portfolio. University of Detroit Mercy.

Academic Design Works  

Undergraduate Architecture Portfolio. University of Detroit Mercy.