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Bill_Crothers | 2007_2010

Evocations of A Perilous+Equivocal Relationship


Seattle Water Tower

5 | 12

Affordable Urban Housing

13 | 14

Charlotte Light Rail Station

15 | 22

Frank Liske Natatorium

23 | 28

Chicago Elevator Museum

Architectural Lenses

29 | 32

33 | 36


Evocations of A Perilous+Equivocal Relationship

Bill_Crothers | Fall_10

Our relationship to the environment vacillates somewhere between frighteningly cynical and frighteningly naive. This is a general cultural phenomena, but it plays out in architecture in interesting ways, both through explicitly Green architecture, and the general modifications to architecture that tries to be anything else. This series of drawings attempts to illustrate some of the contradictions within the field as we struggle to balance a new requirement with our myriad traditions. The images explore the problematic relationship humans have to the environment in more symbolic and suggestive ways than strictly architectural ones. They are not interested in proposing new methods of building so much as critiquing contemporary and traditional practices. 1

The method is not “strictly architectural� in the sense that the drawings are evocative more than prescriptive, but this does not prevent architectural thinking from playing a role. The representation is intentionally traditional, but the sensibility is perhaps more aligned with the artist dilettante than the architect. This creates a bridge between the two approaches, suggestive of the importance of creative thinking in the face of relatively recent problem. The first image is a design for an air ship light house. It both attempts to integrate formally with its habitat and refuses to do so programmatically in so far as it is a piece of infrastructural gymnastics in the face of our typical inability to move with the land. We are always trying to get away from it, which is part of the disconnect’s cause.



The plan above illustrates the frequent obsession on the part of architects with the formal rigor of a design. This is not problematic in itself, but the potentially myopic approach to planning often neglects other important aspects of design.

Bill_Crothers | Fall_10

In this plan’s case, the loss was any sort of sensitivity to place, any place at all, for that matter. The adage that architectural ideas should come from a place, rather than be imposed by a school of thought takes on a new urgency in the light of the environmental concerns.


This section of a coal mine addresses questions of place, but primarily in pursuit of destroying it. The openness of the section speaks to the impossibility of containing pollution-or anything else given the globalizing exchange of ideas, goods, and toxins--which it belches into the air, a remnant of the mountain.

The figures represent the perversity of the frequent ambivalence to environmentally damaging action, as the figure inside is forced to don a gas mask and the figure above, too distracted by the industry and blocked by the smoke is unable to notice the vista the architecture is trying to provide.


Finally, the mine shaft suggests that our actions frequently undermine our physical existence. Presumably the owner knows that the mine shaft is going under his home from a planometric standpoint, a god’s eye view, but it has not sufficiently entered his emotional awareness--part of the point of this series. Perilous+Equivocal_Relationship

Seattle Water Tower

Chris_Jarrett | Fall_10

The work of a topical studio, the Seattle Water Tower aims to address three primary challenges. The first is its site-misty and coastal. The second is “water,” given by the professor, taken literally and figuratively in the design. Its program is large and diverse, containing a hydrological museum, a water research center, and housing. The third consideration is integrating these things with environmentally-informed design and the historical research from the beginning of the semester. A cafe and a swimming pool blur the edges between the spaces, tying them together as programmatic and physical thresholds. The Environmental side of the research drew on the Water Research Center in the UK as a precedent. The historic research centered primarily around industrial-age projects. 5

The top image shows one of the water vistas of the housing units. These spaces begin to blur the traditional architectural distinction between wet and dry spaces as well as provide a view to Elliot Bay, a reminder of location and the city’s historic tie to the bay economically. The lower image diagrammatically conveys the various appearances of water at the street level. The building’s facade recedes at this level in response to human scale and the presence of water, which is also one impetus of the formal moves high above.

Residential: Water Vistas

Urbanscape: South-West corner


Seattle_Water Tower

Elliot Bay’s impact was a large benefit of the site analysis, which determined the incline of the ramps--to maximize views. The Aquarium across the street was also a factor at the urban scale as the building’s circulation aligns itself with its aquatically-minded neighbor. The blue rectangle on the map is the Water Tower’s location. Chris_Jarrett | Fall_10

The four diagrams represent the tie between water and the building’s formal configuration, as systems start to relate; for instance, the center diagrams show the circulation for water as well as people. The use of sewage from the residence for the testing in the research center is shown in the plumbing diagram, below that. 7


Human Circulation

Water Circulation


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Seattle_Water Tower

Model 1/16�=1’

Above, left, the tower’s facade responds in three basic ways to the program within. At the top, the level of the residences, water begins its descent across the facade in small rivulets within the mullions. Its gesture is grander as it cascades through the narrow corridor to the museum level, where it moves inside, activating exhibits. Chris_Jarrett | Fall_10

Above, at night, the light from the tower reflects off the water in the urban plaza in front of the building as well as Elliot Bat. The circulation, particularly the elevator cores, also reads in these backlit photographs.


Right, the back of the building, which will conceivably be hidden by future growth, leaves itself a space above for a circulation atrium for the residents. The green material represents copper, the weathering of which addresses studio concerns of the elements and change.


Seattle_Water Tower

11th floor_Research Offices over lab space 1"=1/16'

9th floor_Research Loop Pipe, Lab, archiving and work rooms 1"=16'

1st floor_Entry Level. Housing access. Museum Lobby. 1"=16'

Systems: contained and open water

Plans are of five representative levels of the tower, moving up from the first one above. The axon illustrates the building’s hydronic thermal controls as well as the water transportation in the mullion system.

Chris_Jarrett | Fall_10

The transverse section primarily addresses three things, a narrow profile, the residents’ light well on the back of the building, and the way the building meets the street level and a water catchment system/pedestrian walk adjacent to the bay.


14th floor_Housing 1"=1/16'

17th floor_Housing 1"=1/16'


Seattle_Water Tower

Affordable Urban Housing

In a studio on Urban Housing that witnessed some nice, very expensive ideas for life in the city, I opted to, instead, try affordable housing. The primary concern, in addition to cost, was security. This is achieved primarily through high visibility-all the corners are open, and the configuration opens itself with a large entrance. In an attempt to keep costs low, the building has no elevators and is consequently only three stories high. The circulation, a potential hotspot for furtive activity, is pushed to the outside, becoming an expressive element for an economic formal language. Fiber Cement Panels are used as a compromise between cost and durability.

Herb_Sprott | Spring_10


The struggle to maintain openness without compromising privacy plays out in the two sections. The individual units are elevated a few steps above the circulation outside. This external circulation, also evident in the sections, serves as a semi-private place for the residents to gather with neighbors and watch the activity in the court below The images at right, from top, show formal drivers of the project. First, the traditional, enclosing circulatory core, prompts questions about visibility. The shift of the train tracks informs the skew in one of the buildings. This turn outward also reduces a lowvisibility area in the corner.

Transverse Section

Longitudinal Section

Circulation Core

Turn of the tracks/hinge

1/16� model in studio group site model

Opening to public


Charlotte_Affordable Housing

Charlotte Light Rail Station

Starting from what we all know about trains--they move things from one place to another-and the sharp slope up to the tracks from the given parking lot, this project took movement as its parti. The understanding of that movement was about a transition from a heavy, earthbound place, to the elevated, position of a train, sitting on a rigidly ordered surface. The site at a larger level also influences the project. The white line in the site model points toward downtown Charlotte and its skyline. Thus, a second idea about the movement is that a trip terminating in Charlotte would end by orienting the traveler to the landmarks of the city.

Michael_Williams | Fall_09


Above right, a precedent study of Beach Station revealed its employment of the straightforward logic of taking someone directly through a building (red) while giving them the option of doing other things such as ticketing, to one side (blue). As the Charlotte station problematized the vertical circulation and re-orientation, its circulation is more complex, but it follows a similar diagram-movement on one side, programming on the other.

Precedent Solana Beach

Site Analysis and Station


Charlotte_Light Rail Station

Entry Scale of Site

Differentiation Material

Transition Tectonic

Transition Altitudinal

Top, the building’s relation to the tracks and the parking--two quite distinct circulatory paths it both mediates between and unites. Below that, an early sketch of materials’ addressing their respective volumes brick for the earth below, steel for the train and tracks above.

Above, the movement from one volume to the other happens at the project’s knuckle, where material and construction change. The sketch suggests how that might happen at the scale of the handrail, as it substitutes a tectonic language for a subtractive one.

Above, one of the considerations was whether the material change should happen on a line or more gradually, as it does in this perspective. Ultimately the material change took place in section, not plan, with a consistent demarcation of volume by elevation.

Michael_Williams | Fall_09


Process_Model 1/16”=1’

Circulation Formal impact

Views Site Influence

Entry Lateral Investigations

Top, a process model gives a sense of the lower volume’s sensibility as a deeply rooted member of the ground, while the basswood one above rests on columns, holding itself aloof, preferring to associate with the train. The circulation formalizes what begins as organic movement from the general area of the site.

Views to Charlotte are privileged as are ones to the tracks. Otherwise they are generally limited, and in the lower volume windows are only for the admittance of light. This diagrammatic understanding particularly influenced the facade of the upper piece, as its variegated screening works to obscure and reveal based on it. 18

The entry sequence is facilitated in part by a sinuous, punctured wall. It begins as a small bench in the landscape, becoming a retaining wall and finally a means to guide and gather people to and around the building’s entrance. Its disintegration into the land also speaks to the connection of the brick volume to the earth. Charlotte_Light Rail Station

Entry into lower volume.

Elevation northeast

Top, upon entering the lower volume, the stairs are on the axis established, bathed in the light of the largely transparent prism above. To the right, tickets are bought through the openings in the wall. One passes under the wall to access the elevators and bathrooms beyond

Michael_Williams | Fall_09

The Northeast elevation has limited fenestration, keeping the emphasis on the train. The red brick volume, a sliver of which is seen above, is almost buried from this vantage point.


87 17 17 34





17 34



Mechanical 1

17 34



30 34 4

3 172

6 Kiosks

OfďŹ ces


Track Level Floor Plan 3/32"=1' 2





A 70




34 4



Plan, Ground Floor

Ground Floor Plan 3/32"=1'

Plan, Upper Floor


Elevation northwest

Top, the ground floor plan illustrates both the heaviness of its load-bearing masonry walls and the program density to the right against the unobstructed walk to the steps

The glass curtain wall of the upper floor reflects its relation to the smaller pieces that compose a train. The central cafe and rest rooms curve to answer the concrete wall and suggest movement to the tracks.


The facade on the track side is increasingly open as it moves south toward the almost entirely open Charlotte facade. The pieces of the facade--many small rectangles composing an entity, further relates the upper volume to the train and its components.

Charlotte_Light Rail Station

Portion Model Knuckle

Michael_Williams | Fall_09









8" CMU








Left, load-bearing brick and concrete give way to steel tube columns and large trusses above. The reveal between the roof of the brick volume and the concrete wall serves to illuminate the wall as well as the service functions it facilitates, e.g. purchasing tickets.

Wal 1/4"

The wall details illustrate moves that reinforce the ideas of structural and material differentiation previously discussed. Here, those ides play out in terms of details with the brick, such as the reveal above the concrete floor and the concealment of the gypsum meeting the wall above. 22

The section gives a sense of the scale change from above to below as well as explaining the structural role the curving wall plays in addition to its programmatic ones.

Charlotte_Light Rail Station

Frank Liske Park Natatorium

There are two primary influences for this pretentiously-named pool in the park. The first is a barn on the site, one of the park’s few large buildings. The second is the two very different spatial scales required for the building: one for lockers and bathrooms, the other for a freeplan space for a large pool. Daylighting was also important, as prolonged direct sunlight can lead to problems with algae and, even in the short-term, glare. As I sited to the south of a pond on the site, a large northfacing window wall served both to daylight the pool and open views to the pond. Another consequence of the daylighting requirements was the southern overhang of the roof to allow primarily indirect light through the clerestory.

Herb_Sprott | Spring_09


Lower right, the building’s two basic forms for its two program categories are shown. The smaller bar, for supporting functions, opens to mark the buildings entrance. The structure from the larger bar overhangs it, blocking direct light on the pool. Top Right, a precedent study of the Maison de Verre preceded the pool design. The perspective was generated manually, using drafting software.

Maison de Verre, generated perspective

South West corner. Entry


Frank Liske Park_Natatorium

Prominent Barn on site

Barn to Natatorium, formal diagram

Top, the site’s dominant architectural presence is an old barn. For the two program bars, this provides a way of abstractly relating to the site and handling the formal relationship simultaneously.

Frank Liske Park_Natatorium

Above, part of the reason for the Barn’s dominance was its siting, and the relation the natatorium creates with it by essentially splitting the park into two spheres of influence. The Barn sits atop the highest point on the site and serves as something of a landmark as well as a function space for cookouts and parties. 25

North West Corner

North Elevation

South Elevation

Above, the natatorium’s north facade is bookended by two translucent and opaque walls. The walls are board and baton, the roof is horizontally run aluminum panels, which come down to close the final bay on each end of the wall, concealing storage and mechanical spaces.

Upper elevation, the north elevation’s glass in connected with spider clamps to the glulam arches behind it. The horizontal folds of the roof give a different character to their bays as they peel away at different heights.


Lower elevation, the south side has less fenestration and is the underplayed member of the composition, setting its low horizontal gesture against the board and baton wall cladding.

Herb_Sprott | Spring_09

Entry Corner

North + West Facades


Spatial Relationship of two bars

Glulam archives meeting columns

Top, the open-entrance ties into the other primary building type at the park: the picnic shelter. Both ends are left partially open like this, which also lets the space bleed out a little, a seemingly natural extension of being inside when one is at a park.

Center left, the heights of the bays partially reflect the program behind them, the lowest parts are often for the sides. The center and the point of entrance into the pool area from the lower bar get the highest ceiling. A six foot grid underlies those heights.

Above, these three models talk about enclosure in the building, beginning with the partiallyinterior entry space, far left. The center diagram presents the spacial relationship between the bars in terms of interior space. Above, the glulam arches connecting with the columns.

Herb_Sprott | Spring_09


Swimmer donning goggles

Ground Floor Plan

Top, the arches provide the requisite space for the pools, but also do so in a way that give the greatest height to the pool deck, where people are higher than when submerged in the water.

Second Level Floor Plan

Above, the ground plan breaks the service bar into three spaces: threshold, lobby, lockers. Stairs lead above to the spectators’ seats. The security point comes after the access to this, preventing confusion about non-members watching their kids races. The other requirement was distinguishing wet and dry spaces. 28

Above, along the north facade, the variation of bays is apparent, as the different heights show up planometrically.

Frank Liske Park_Natatorium

Chicago Elevator Museum

Thomas_Forget | Fall_08

As the city of the American sky scraper, Chicago is an appropriate site for a museum showcasing the circulatory piece that made them possible. The museum has a large program, but the focus is on three historic elevators that are project provides for architecturally. In the spirit of celebrating a component of circulation, the museum pushes all of its circulation to the facade, creating both a kind of gallery for the elevators, which start on the second floor, and a way to view the rest of the city. This responds to the museum as a launch site for historic architectural tours of Chicago. The elevators are also used as locations for the building’s primary structure, giving added emphasis to their place in the museum. 29

The building, despite its program, has a large site, and so does not need to go as high, raising a question about relating to a skyscraper as a short building. If it is the job of a skyscraper in Chicago to look tall, what is the job of a short building that wants to be a skyscraper? The expressive elevator cores begin to address this question. Right, view after ascending steps into the building’s circulation prism. Behind the elevator is one of a number of galleries, this one open to the entry.

Watercolor of one of the museum galleries


Chicago_Elevator Museum

1/8� Section Model

Process Model, circulation

1/8� Section Model

1/16� Massing Model

Top: a sectional model ( cut through the project as indicated in the plan by the large brackets) addresses the role the elevators play in anchoring the design. The smaller elevator to its right is a modern one, simply for elevating people to the second, circulation-intense floor.

Above, from left, a process model investigating placement of stairs in the circulation bar. Middle, another view of the section model, emphasizing the relationship between the floor pates. Right, a site model showing two programmatic pieces coming off the elevatorstudded circulation bar.

Right, Section cut through the elevators indicates the variety of different models the museum might showcase. The structural display for each one is different, (from left to right in plan) cellular, planar, and columnar. On the ground floor, the circulation bar is overhead, and the two program volumes are distinct.

Thomas_Forget | Fall_08



Chicago_Elevator Museum

Architectural lenses

I began by exploring a potential role of architectural thinking outside of studio design. I’d like to finish with a few more examples. Unlike the first set of images, which are about architectural representation interacting with other modes of thinking, these are concerned with the way an architect thinks, particularly in terms of analysis. There are three projects: The first, the shadow box, (at right) was for a class with David Thadeus. Building a sculpture in an architecturally-minded way (assuming we can make that distinction) is the reverse of the process for the introductory images, which are about applying the artist’s thinking to an architectural representation.

Bill_Crothers +D_Thadeus | 2010


The second project was done independently, and is largely about identifying a problem. The project is concerned with book ends. Someone with no ability to think abstractly can tell you about book ends. They are heavy. That’s it. But the underlying principle is that they keep books together. A diagram of an ordinary object often provokes novel understandings. Finally, comes a series of images of nuts. Two modes of analysis are employed. The first is isolation. By removing detail, we come to new standpoints. The second is cutting, which is similar in that it disassociates typically paired things. I did not look for either specimen, but ran across them. And that’s the point: they are ordinary objects, made interesting by thought.

Book Ending

Book End

Shadow Box



Isolation Partial

Description In Context

Disassembly Scale Magnification

Isolation Complete

The Description is similar to a site plan of a building, before any diagrams. It can also be thought of as a an empty site. It is the first level of effective understanding, but it is only a start. Accurately describing something is only the beginning of understanding it.

Bill_Crothers | Fall_10

Isolation helps us understand the object itself, free from other details. As the object is broken down further, the question arises, how far? At what point does something become meaningless, or the purview of physicists rather than architects?


A possible final step is the magnification of a part of the object, in essence isolating it, not physically, but through scope. Much of this happens naturally when we try to understand something, but by analyzing the way we analyze, we have the opportunity to modify our design process.

Analytical Tool Section Partial


Section Describes Skin

The nut begins with a three-part shell, hiding most of the nut itself. Through cutting away the shell, the relationship between skin and flesh is revealed, including unexpected veins, but this pertains primarily to the surface.

Section Reveals interior

Left, this section emphasizes the skin. This is one reason to break something into pieces, to get a better look at what is between them, what holds them together.


Above, this section is less about envelope, as it describes the interior--the difference between a wall section and a building section, perhaps, which brings us back to architecture. One of our assets is the ability to look at something and ignore almost all of it. An analytical framework lets us do this well. Architectural_Lenses

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undergraduate portfolio  

Work done at uncc. Used for application to various graduate programs in architecture