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BRIAN VARGO 408.316.1088 or


2015 (expected): Candidate for Master in Design Studies Degree, Concentration in Real Estate and Development


2011: Bachelor of Architecture Degree with Magna Cum Laude.

2006-2011: Member of Dean’s list, President’s list, and National Society of Collegiate Scholars

2009:2010: Danish Institute for Study Abroad in Copenhagen, Demark. Enrolled with merit based scholarship.

2009-2010: Richard Lee Fisher Memorial Scholarship, Don Floyd Memorial Scholarship, Peter Tax and Adam Jarman Scholarship

VARGO DESIGN Ongoing independent design work and publications:

1st Prize: HighLink, San Francisco, An international ideas competition for the removal of Highway 280 in downtown SF.

1st Prize: ReImagine the Electric Car, STC RIO Competition 2012, with Brandon Hall and Annie Peyton.

Academic Publication: PLAT 3.0: “Towards a Better Infrastructure: Is the Airport All There is?” with Brandon Hall, Yale 2014.

Academic Publication: BRACKET: AT EXTREMES: “Airnode” with Brandon Hall, Yale 2014.

JAJA ARCHITECTS 2011-2013: Design Architect and Project Leader in an award winning design firm based in Copenhagen, Denmark:

Hillevågsveien 24, Norway: Design team leader for 350 apartment development. Masterplan complete 2014. To be realized 2015.

1st Prize: Ålesund City Plan, Norway: Design team for city’s masterplan, competition 2011. Plan adopted in June 2013.

1st Prize: Åndalsnes Waterfront, Norway: Design team, city boardwalk and schematic urban design. To be realized 2015.

Finalist: Reykjavik City Center, Iceland: Project leader for 100,000 sqft hotel and urban plan.

2nd Prize: Rjukan, Norway: Project Leader: Project leader. 2nd Prize in open international competition.

Straume Centrum Tower, Norway: Design team, 120,000 sqft office building and urban plan.

3rd Prize: Daegu Public Library, Korea: Project leader. 3rd Prize of 553 entries in open international competition.

Helsinki Central Library, Finland: Project leader for public library proposal.

SCHMIDT HAMMER LASSEN ARCHITECTS 2010 Summers: Design Intern for a renowned design office based in Denmark Copenhagen, Denmark:

1st Prize: Malmo Concert Hall and Congress Center, Sweden: Design and Competition Models

1st Prize: Salt Crystals, Hotel and Entertainment Venue, Denmark: Design and Competition Models

TERRY MARTIN ARCHITECTS 2007,2008 Summers: Project management and drafting for high-end residential and commercial projects based in Los Gatos, California.

American Sleep Medicine Facilities: Project management and construction documents for 2500 sqft commercial project. Built 2008.

Ghuman residence: Project management and construction documents for 6000 sqft residential home. Built 2008.

Dvornik residence: Project management, construction documents, and construction administration for 3000 sqft residential home. Built 2007.

Legates Residence: Construction documents for 5000 sqft residence. Built 2007.

DESIGN BUILD SERVICES 2006, 2009 Summers. Construction management: On-site job inspections, material inventories, basic construction based in San Jose, California.

The Cravery Restaurant: On-site construction management for 3000 sqft restaurant: Built 2006.

4th Street Pizza: On-site construction management for 6000 sqft: Built 2006.

REYKJAVIK CITY CENTER: HOTEL AND URBAN PLAN Finalist in open competition, 2012 The Kvosin district in the city of Reykjavik is one of the most historic places in Scandinavia, with its oldest buildings estimated to be constructed over 1000 years ago. The competition for a new hotel and urban plan for the city center must balance the ambitions of a 7,500m2 development within this rich historical context. Our proposal focuses on meeting the scale and urban quality of the existing buildings, while defining an open ground floor that connects three adjacent squares. The new hotel snakes around existing buildings to articulate a perimeter block and frame the public space of Reykjavik’s city center. Working together, the combination of new and old create a coherent, yet diverse, environment. It is this quality that will both add value to the quality of the proposed hotel and promote the urban activity of the Kvosin district. This environment is further defined by limiting the nearby roads to only pedestrian access, and articulating each of the three squares as having a different level of urban activity. Working at this scale involved a detailed understanding of the complex urban conditions in a historic cityscape, construction of historic buildings and local Icelandic culture. Our proposal was one of six finalists in an open competition with over 70 entries, and was acclaimed for its comprehensive vision of Reykjvaik’s city center.

BETWEEN BOOKS AND TREES 3rd Place among 553 entries in open competition for community library in Daegu, Korea As a model for other community libraries, the Daegu Gosan Public Library should embody the universal access of information and knowledge sharing, letting its activity spill out and public life flow in. Our proposal uses the qualities of the existing site to create a cohesive environment that blurs the line between public space and public building. The library will merge the exterior and interior through a series of spatial transitions that create a reading space between books and trees. The existing site is framed by a line of trees and is adjacent to a wide park strip that protects the future library from the nearby traffic of a growing cityscape. The special quality of a green space within a dense city provides an opportunity for the library to take on a special meaning. By minimizing its architecture, the library can extend the experience of the trees into a profound reading space for the community to share.

BETWEEN BOOKS AND TREES The plan is organized around a central void that brings light from top to bottom. Desk spaces frame the perimeter of the central atrium, leaving room for large, flexible areas on each floor to accommodate a variety of shelf configurations as the library meets its changing needs. Group rooms are arranged on opposite sides of the plan to support functions beyond the central reading space. A forest of columns on a regular grid supports three simple floors above the ground level. The plan is designed with universal dimensions that enable the use of standardized elements. Group rooms are arranged on opposite sides of the plan to accommodate a variety of uses beyond the central reading space. The specific spaces and functions can be easily adjusted while maintaining the overall qualities of the design concept. This combination - both a robust identity and a flexible system - constitutes a design that can artfully adapt to the changing requirements of the program which will inevitably arise in further development. The fundamental relationship between the architecture and its context guides the library’s quality more than its formal gesture. By using the spatial qualities of the exterior trees, the library makes a timeless cultural statement that appeals across generations. The HVAC design follows the same structural principle of the architectural concept - minimal and highly efficient. The stepped volume is shaped by the angle of the sun’s average path throughout the year, minimizing the interior cooling load. The large, open interior atrium lets natural ventilation supply fresh air to all interior spaces. The library is in constant dialogue with its context through a minimal vocabulary. Its cantilevering floors shade each other, allowing profound transparency that brings the library’s books directly to the exterior. As visitors arrive, they follow a transition from the texture of the trees to the texture of the books. The glass facade is the minimal boundary between the two, framing a profound connection that defines the experience of the library. As the seasons change, the trees become a backdrop of color and light that creates a variety of experiences. For example, the winter library maximizes the amount of ambient light when it is most needed within the interior. The fall library casts orange and red hues within, shaping a dramatically different experience.

RJUKAN TORG 2nd Place among 53 entries in open competition for town square in Rjukan, Norway, 2013 Rjukan is a small town with rugged natural surroundings. Nestled deep within a wooded fjord, the city gets no direct sunshine for more than 6 months out of the year. But the town has a unique ability to harvest the natural environment - A new heliostat will bounce the sun’s rays off its adjacent mountain to the town’s central square. The design competition for this square will be the ideal chance to create the ideal stage for Rkukan’s new spotlight, illuminating the town’s daily life and its history as a special place. The mirror project continues the town’s long story of taming the rugged Norwegian landscape. At the center of that story is the power of water. Rjukan was firstbuilt as a company town around Rjukanfossen, a large waterfall that powered Northern Europe’s largest hydroelectric power plant for nearly a century. The new Rjukan Torg will connect to this historic identity by creating an intersectino between water and light. We envision a space that imagines the new ‘urban fountain’ as a spatial gesture - shaping the phenomena of light and water into functional and timeless experiences for the city’s future.

Diakonissestiftelsen Master Plan, Denmark

DIAKONISSESTIFTELSEN MASTER PLAN 50,000m2 Urban Plan, Shared 1st Prize Shared 1st Prize in invited competition, 2012 with Cubo Arkitekter and Henrik Jørgensen Landskab

My Role: Concept Development, Visualization The Danish Deaconess Foundation is a non-profit organization based in a series of historic brick monasteries in a quiet Copenhagen neighborhood. The foundation’s further development will include adding substantial amounts of living, working, and educational programs, greatly increasing the area’s density. This competition requires a strategic development to transform this historic context into a series of vibrant urban environments without disrupting the natural beauty of the historic architecture. Our concept focuses not on adding new buildings, but rather on extending the existing building-structure’s natural rhythm and using the variety of green spaces between their masses as a connective element. The new Diakonissestiftelsen will be linked by this green spine, allowing for diversity in scale and program while maintaining a cohesive identity. Such a gesture is infinitely flexible and allows for various collaborators to partake in the design process over the coming decade.

historic harbor


historic harbor

1st Prize in open competition for City Plan (2012), completed in 2014 The picturesque Norwegian city of Ålesund aims to build 150,000m2 of cultural, residential, and commercial program along its southern waterfront. But how can this be achieved without compromising the inherent quality and small scale of a regional tourist city? How can a new development reconcile its scale within one of Norway’s most historic fjords? Our proposal focuses on the historic qualities of the city in guiding its future growth. The city has historically centered around a natural sound that runs through new fishing harbor

new culture harbor

its oldest quarters. As both a vital natural resource and an incubator for public activity, this water space is the heart of the city, fostering urban development within a wide open landscape. In essence, the ‘blue space’ acts as the civic plaza, creating the gathering point for generations by concentrating the city’s activity. Further development should extend the urban qualities of the sound to create a series of protected harbor spaces. Our strategy orients the added elements of the city into urban-themed ‘blue spaces.’ For example, the culture harbor (visualized here) gathers the variety of cultural programs to be added to the city into one public space. This will demarcate Ålesund as a progressive city focused on the inherent qualities of its unique urbanity, while still addressing the needs of its future population.

new culture harbor

HIGHLINK 1st Prize in competition to redesign 280 overpass, San Francisco, California Imagine removing the traffic from a freeway in the middle of a city. The mayor’s office of San Francisco is considering just that, and has asked for ideas to fill the space left over by the removal of interstate 280. Highlink is a winning proposal that asks for something more substantial – Rather than just remove the overpass, can we repurpose its existing structure to create new value for the city? The HighLink is a vibrant promenade, filled with a natural landscape of recreation areas, gathering spaces, and refuges for wildlife. This new urban space will add value to the adjacent parcels freed by the removal of the freeway, and help shape a cohesive identity for the adjacent development of Mission Bay. the HighLink will act both as destination and link between two parts of the city, ultimately creating a layered urbanism that gives back to the community in the city. Built to withstand heavy traffic, the overpass is already structurally robust. By supplementing that structure with a simple irrigation and drainage network, large trees can line a vegetated pathway of community gardens, grassy fields, and imaginative landscapes. Moreover, the entirety of the HighLink can be universally accessible – All members of the public can safely scale its gently slopped pathway. This proposal has garnered ongoing attention as a viable alternative to demolition of the freeway.

HILLEVAAGSVEIEN 24, NORWAY 1st Prize in invited competition, 2012. Master Plan and City Approval 2013. Expected Completion 2017. Hillevåg is a booming Norwegian oil town with rapidly changing demographics and an uncertain future housing market. The new development requires a robust scheme to turn a former industrial area into qualitative space, but the uncertain market conditions require the flexibility to withstand systemic changes in total building footprint size (20-40,000m2) as well as the scale of individual apartments (65-125m2). We focus on a highly efficient solution that allows extreme flexibility while ensuring spatial qualities that relate to the human scale. Our proposal synthesizes these criteria into a flexible urban strategy that frames two major public spaces - a protected inner courtyard and linear view corridors towards the adjacent fjord. Only two simple modules - a ‘tower’ and ‘block’ - create a variety of spatial conditions while maintaining the utmost efficiency in construction and ensuring that each apartment has a view towards the waterfront. These two floor modules are easily adapted into a variety of floorplans (above) to meet changing demographic needs without hampering constructability or urban quality.

Vargo Portfolio  
Vargo Portfolio