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Brianna Bruening

Undergraduate Design Portfolio

University of Minnesota College of Design Bachelor of Science 5239 W Harvard dr. Franklin, WI 53132 414-915-1219

Academic Work La Plaza de Soledad Floor, Wall, & Roof Staircase Analysis Urban Passageway Social Architecture

La Plaza de Soledad designing for a city

Study abroad in Oaxaca, Mexico In collaboration with Kelly Kraemer and Chen Hu Spring 2011 This project is a redesign of La Plaza de Basilica Soledad in Oaxaca, Mexico. The plaza serves a diverse range of functions within the city of Oaxaca such as providing space for large performances, ice cream vendors, and worship. However, with severe grade changes and a disorganized stair system, the existing site is difficult to navigate. The intent of the project was to shape a more functional and cohesive space within the parameters of the existing buildings that border the site, while also introducing new programmatic structures. Overall, the project was designed to promote issues at the scale of the city, the site, and the individual building. The design process was conducted through modeling and ink on mylar drawings. The focus for this design was derived from a desire to announce the significant buildings that border the site, such as the city hall, a music school, and Basilica Soledad. The idea of “porches,” created by blocks of stairs, and “patios,” created by slight level changes up or down, played an important role within the design in developing a strong sense of presence at the entrance to each building. In addition, a central stair system complimented with lines of trees created a rhythmic and visually strong axis for travel across the site.

City hall

Basilica Soledad

Church of San Jose

Music School

Top left: A stage for performances creates a “patio” for the city hall, which in turn acts as a backdrop. Bottom left: A smaller practice stage is placed on the “porch” outside of the music school.


Right: Rhythm is created on the plaza with grand staircases and lines of trees.

New structures that were introduced to La Plaza de Soledad through the process of redesign shared a common design strategy. Heavy stone walls were used at varying lengths to divide spaces within buildings. These stone walls are common in the city of Oaxaca, and their implementation in the structures allowed for free movement. N Gallery ground floor plan.

Gallery section.

Floor, Wall, & Roof creating a place to be

Study abroad in Oaxaca, Mexico Spring 2011 This small project focuses on the basic architectural elements of floor, wall, and roof in order to answer the question “how am I there?� While each of these architectural elements holds its own significance in design, it is the relationship between all three elements that truly creates a place to be. The project called for the design of a place for a bed, single chair, table with three chairs, and two sculptures. Exploration was conducted through modeling with balsa wood, concentrating on one of the three architectural elements at a time. The design for this project was created with the intent of being direct and pure in nature. Each element of the design was placed with purpose, and careful attention was given to the alignment of edges in relationship to one another. In addition, furniture was placed in a manner so that each piece was able to benefit from a unique and private view of the landscape. Overall, this modest design was implemented with the goal of becoming a part of the landscape with the use of simple architectural forms.


2. The single chair overlooks the site with a short wall for protection and small roof overhead.


3. The table with three chairs is set in an open pavilion in order to benefit from views on all sides.



N Plan view diagram.


1. The placement of the bed was the most private, with an elevated location in the landscape and walls on three sides.




Staircase Analysis

an exploration through hybrid drawing Rapson Hall - University of Minnesota In collaboration with Kim Glasenapp Spring 2010 This analytical exercise explores the form of a staircase, the materials it is comprised of, and the details that make it unique. Methods used to conduct analysis of the staircase included photography and hand drawing. The intent of the project was to use these methods of exploration in order to discover and reveal new characteristics and qualities about the staircase. While individual drawings were used to gain a better understanding of the form and materiality of the staircase, a hybrid drawing was created in order to reveal a much more complex relationship between different parts of the staircase. Key observations revealed about the staircase were centralized around its overall winding and organic form, which was complimented by the rigid bends in the hand railing. In addition, observations about the relationship between light and the form of the staircase were captured through photography and drawing. While a wall of translucent glass was directly adjacent to the staircase, the light that penetrated through was dull, giving each facet of the staircase a distinct quality of shade. Overall, the design of the hybrid drawing utilized strategies of proportion and overlaying in order to reveal relationships between the staircase’s components.

East Stair in Rapson Hall.

The photography joiner represents the rigid and organic bends of the staircase and hand railing as they contrast with the repetitiveness of the steps. The hybrid drawing combines both analytical and experiential observations about the design of the staircase.

Photography joiner.

Hybrid drawing.

Urban Passageway a study of mass and void

Cedar Avenue - Minneapolis, Minnesota Fall 2010 The focus for this project was the manipulation of mass and void in order to create architectural space. The design process began with an exploration of positive and negative space created with wooden blocks. While the design process began in an abstract manner, a site and program were eventually introduced. The site for this project consists of a rectangular piece of land that serves as a connection between an alley and a busy street. The project called for a designed passageway on the site that would incorporate the programs of a small community center, public rest room, and bus stop. Plaster was used in the model of the final design for its heavy and massive characteristics while paper was used as a contrasting planer element. The final design contained a clear line of vision down the length of the site. A focus was placed on the use of roof lines to draw the traveler through the site. Careful attention was given to the alignment of these roof lines as they played a significant role in dividing space and threshold.

The plaster model was built around the concept of sliding pieces. Each part of the model is sized to appear as if it fits into adjacent parts of the model. Vertical surfaces were created with a rough texture while horizontal surfaces remained smooth.

Plaster model.

The final design was inspired by interpreting the spaces created between the mass and void spaces of wood blocks.

The plaster and paper model was constructed with similar elements to the plaster model. Three main masses occupy the site while the planer roof lines carry the traveler threough.

Plaster and paper model.

Roof lines draw the traveler down the length of the site and emphasize clarity in the division of the scheme.

Paper walls were added to divide the site into three main parts.

Short walls of plaster were added to define the line of vision through the site with texture.

Design began with a blank plaster rectangle.

Social Architecture

expanding Valparaiso’s touristic realm Valparaiso, Chile In collaboration with Rachel Peterson Spring 2012 The site for this project was the port city of Valparaiso, Chile. The city is made up of a flat “plan” area next to the coast and foothills that take on the form of an amphitheater looking down on the port. This topography of the city makes travel from the hills to the plan area difficult. Valparaiso relies heavily on tourism as a means of income, and its historic district stands as a UNESCO heritage site. However, much of the money earned from tourism is concentrated in the plan area of the city. While Valparaiso’s poorest people live in the hills, they often do not benefit from interaction with tourists. Exploration for this project began with an extensive site analysis, from which we identified a problem to solve through architectural design. The focus for this project became utilizing tourists as a tool in bringing money up to the poor people in Valparaiso’s hills. A network of tourist and residential paths with small programs were designed as an urban scale strategy in solving the problem. These paths utilize a bright color palette to reflect Valparaiso’s vibrant street art and stand out among other existing streets. Small programs such as bathrooms, tourist kiosks, pocket parks with benches, and vendor stands help draw tourists further up in the hills. In addition, larger programs, such as a marketplace, created specific tourist destinations that would provide interaction between tourists and residents.

Urban scale design strategy. Existing tourist circuits and program New tourist circuits and program N

Axonometric diagram of Valparasio’s street network.

Resident circuits and program

Organizing vegetation in wedge forms on the street.

Using voids between buildings as an extension of the street.

Existing conditions.

The use of a specific color palette along with small program and other street furnishings allow streets within the network to be distinguishable within the city. A wedge form is used in the street to serve functions such as a place for bus stops (below) and to hold plants and streetlights. The wedge works with the topography and acts as a device in calming traffic, making the streets more walkable.

Undergraduate Design Portfolio  

A collection of work from the Bachelor of Science in architecture program at the Univeristy of Minnesota-Twin Cities

Undergraduate Design Portfolio  

A collection of work from the Bachelor of Science in architecture program at the Univeristy of Minnesota-Twin Cities