Clemson School of Architecture - Genoa F2016

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TECHNIFIED ECOSYSTEMS The City as an Artificial Landscape

FALL 2016

FOREWORD The very notion of architecture as a sustainable endeavor remains problematic despite its now mainstream acknowledgment. The obsession with energy efficiency, strengthened by institutionalized validations such as LEED, conceals a much more intricate array of factors -from social and technical to natural and urban- that, rather than too complex or problematic, might actually constitute an innovatively ecological design thinking. In the studio displayed in this poster we have attempted to approach this wide question without downscaling it neither to a mere technical issue nor to marketing imagery. With that end we have chosen to work on a site in Greenville -South Carolina-, where an unresolved and intense urban condition merges with a recently recovered river area. The long-term transformation of Greenville’s Main Street according to the project by Laurence Halprin in the 1970’s was not only a breakthrough in the reinvention of the post-suburban American town toward denser and walkable environment, It also meant the first step in a longer transformative process for Greenville,


in which the civic value of public space strategically overcame the economic value of the urban lot. The recent recovery of the banks of the Reedy River as a scenario of urban activity, with the addition of a pedestrian suspension bridge, constitutes a continuation to Halprin’s work, bringing back the hidden green landscape of the waterfalls of the Reedy into the heart of the city. Sadly, these two key urban operations -Falls Park and Main Street- remain disconnected by the amorphous structure of a large block currently occupied by the local newspaper: the Greenville News. This will be precisely the site that we have analyzed and redesign, taking advantage of its potential for integrating the water landscape of the Reedy River with the intense urbanity of Main Street. Consequently, the studio proposals also serve as critical alternatives to the rather banal -and already in progress- plan for a hotel, condominiums and a commercial complex in this very site, including the demolition of the beautiful late-modern structure of the Greenville News building from 1969.


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INTRODUCTION As today’s architecture students move into the profession, they will inherit a rapidly changing world, both in terms of the physical contexts of their work, and the tools, materials and processes available to create it. Preparing students for this challenging, dynamic future calls for greater integration of innovative ecological design thinking within the design discourse of universities across the country. The American Institute of Architects Committee on the Environment (AIA COTE), in partnership with the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA), is pleased to announce the second annual AIA COTE Top Ten for Students. The program challenges students, working individually or in teams, to submit projects that use a thoroughly integrated approach to architecture, natural systems, and technology to provide architectural solutions that protect and enhance the environment. The competition will recognize ten exceptional studio projects that seamlessly integrate innovative, regenerative strategies within their broader design concepts.

Entries will be judged on their success in addressing all ten sustainability measures. Successful responses will demonstrate creative and innovative integration of daylighting, materials, water, energy, and ecological systems, through a cohesive and beautiful architectural understanding. Entries are examined in regard to their design and innovation, integration with their community, land use and effect on site ecology, bioclimatic design, energy and water use, approach to light and air, materials and construction, long-life considerations, and feedback loops. Entries will also be judged for the success with which the project has met its individual requirements, with particular emphasis on design excellence. The project submission will include for each of the measures a demonstration through narrative, illustration, and in some cases an approach and diagram or metric for the emphasis and intent of the design decisions. These measures are intended to foster leadership (and ability) among designers in all facets of environmental decision-making; and to demonstrate design quality and ways to seamlessly integrate innovative, regenerative strategies within their broader design concepts.

PROJECT BACKGROUND The very notion of architecture as a sustainable endeavor remains problematic despite its current mainstream acknowledgment. Metaphorically similar to an iceberg, the obsession with energy efficiency conceals a much more intricate array of factors ranging from social and technical to natural and urban conditions that might help architects configure an innovative ecological-urban design thinking. In this studio, we will approach to sustainability as neither an economical nor an ecological issue but as a wider urban problem

involving both. We will use the AIA COTE Students Competition as a method to bring to light the complexity of this problem. (See The competition format is part of a long tradition of architecture that aims to bring to public view innovative design ideas. With that goal in mind, we will work on a specific site in Greenville, South Carolina, chosen to put in play the ten questions proposed by the competition brief.

SITE CONSIDERATIONS As an urban landscape, downtown Greenville stands as a remarkable example of how design can or should have a direct positive impact over the life of a city. The long-term transformation of Main Street according to the project conceived by Laurence Halprin in the 1970’s was a breakthrough in the reinvention of the post-suburban American town as a denser and walkable environment. This was also the first step of a longer transformation for Greenville, in which the civic value of public space strategically overcame the economic value of the urban lot. The more recent recovery of the banks of the Reedy River as a scenario of urban activity constitutes a brilliant continuation to Halprin’s work. It does so by bringing back the hidden landscape of the waterfalls into the heart of the city, integrating not only the green area of the Falls Park itself, but also relevant public institutions, such as Peace Center Performance Arts complex.

Sadly, these two key urban operations—Main Street and Falls Park—remain disconnected by an amorphous large block currently occupied by the Greenville News between Broad Street and Falls Park edge in Murphy Street. This will be precisely the site that we will analyze and redesign for the COTE competition considering its potential to integrate the landscape of the Reedy River with the intense urban context of Main Street. The studio competition proposals will serve as critical alternatives to the rather banal—and already in progress—plan for a hotel, condominiums and a commercial complex in this very site, including the demolition of a historic landmark, the late-modern structure of the Greenville News from 1969.

PROGRAMMATIC APPROACH As it usually occurs on sites with the high urban potential this one has, the program of the building (or buildings) to be raised here is an open question. Therefore, the architectural strategy should be intimately tied to the program in one way or the other. Even if it includes different programmatic elements -such as commercial, residential or cultural uses-, configuring some sort of Mixed-use, their different proportions will be essential for the final result. 8

Consequently, the first step to start the design process will be a programmatic statement that shows the potential of the site. Alternative and experimental approaches regarding program are encouraged, while too deterministic ones -making conventional choices by default- should be avoided. In any case there should be a reasoned narrative that supports the programmatic statement. 9

LAUREN OVCA MICHAEL MIOUX CONNECTING THE HYDRO LOOP Located between a bustling downtown and a picturesque park with an active waterway in Greenville, South Carolina, sits an isolated industrial site causing pedestrian inactivity. This project reconnects the urban loop around Falls Park using water flow and treatment as a tool for planning and education, restoring it as an active public space. Water conservation is becoming an increasingly important part of our lives, yet because of current water management and treatment practices, the general public remains ignorant of the process. The program serves as a tool for learning as well as a practical application through visible, interactive water purification. The old topography drained polluted water directly into the river, contributing to unhealthy ecosystems. The new site acts as a natural filtration system to reduce toxins entering the river, creating a safer environment. Implementing design strategies such as a 24 hour life cycle, passive technologies, and interwoven water and energy systems, the proposal links contrasting environments with the public education of engaging water treatment processes. 10






ATIKA JAIN AILED MAZAS THE ACTIVE LINK The active link aims to generate a connection between the city and the park to enhance the cultural dynamics of this society. In the past, this city had two YMCA’s that where located in the downtown with a minimum walkable distance, but these two where closed in 2015 and moved to the suburbs to a driving distance of more than half an hour. One of the project’s goals is to give back to the community a place which not only promotes a healthy life style but also fosters mental and physical wellbeing. This link goes beyond the physical connection of programs in the city since it also connects different activities within the project that encourage healthy lifestyle in all its ways. Another goal of the project is to create a sense of belonging in the existing and future community by enhancing the public spaces. These spaces are characterized by merging different vibrant activities for people of all ages. Small niches such as open cafeterias, plazas, and restaurants create a comfortable microclimate facing the surrounding vibrancy offering opportunities to pause. 16






THU DO KATIE TURNER IN BETWEEN By concentrating on the “in-between” spaces, our design proposal creates an ecology-focused artist living and gallery center that connects to the existing community, while also integrating the urban fabric with the natural landscape of Falls Park. This connection creates a series of lively plazas woven through the site to activate the space not only during the day but also at night. At the same time, the design inspires a sense of community through assimilating public space with open studios, thus creating a more unique and handson creative process for the resident artists and visitors. To optimize lighting and air conditions, the proposal promotes sustainable design through purposeful placement of glazing and shading systems to enhance natural light while also minimizing heat gain. Operable apertures and doors encourage natural cross ventilation throughout all the buildings to keep a constant thermal comfort level all through the year. These operable components tie back into the idea of creating designated, occupiable thresholds and “in-between” moments: spaces that fluidly adapt from inside to outside giving people a continual connection to nature. 22






EMILY HEEZEN JUHEE PORWAL EMBEDDING KNOWLEDGE The project of ‘Embedding Knowledge’ creates a learning center to increase people’s awareness about the ever changing needs for a sustainable future. Educating people is fundamental to ensure, that people are conscious of their choices. The architecture of this project expresses these ideas as physical parameters, while spatially merging the disconnected urban activities and natural landscape. Providing a learning hub in an active central downtown environment encourages the community to further their education independently in a library or a Learning Center. Integrating the urban activity to the North of the site and the landscape of a park at the South creates a landscape of embedded spaces that emerge as fragments across the site. These fragments furthermore offer a variety of small and large public spaces, which allow multiple users to coexist in the same space. By achieving a public layer on the ground and embedding the learning, these spaces, where education is encouraged, becoming more accessible. Hence knowledge becomes no longer associated with the notion of an institutional building dominating its landscape and the people in it; rather it brings the people above it. 28






J.T. PENNINGTON CULLEN SMITH RECYCLING URBAN GARDENS Recycling Urban Gardens is an adaptive reuse of an existing Brutalist, concrete structure that once served as the headquarters for the city’s newspaper. The project breathes new life in two scales: the outdoor urban condition and building scale that facilitate a variety of programs. The design uses a series of precise surgical removal into the city block to generate five buildings and an open community space at the center. There are multiple routes to pass through the site, each of which possess unique views and features. The site is in downtown Greenville, South Carolina, with an adjacent park to the south, which is divided from the project site by the city’s river. Recycling Urban Garden hosts a diverse variety of programs, including a 42 bed hostel (26,380 SF), cafe/bar (5,930 SF), office (2,600 SF), a 26 unit apartment complex (15,320 SF), athletics facility (17,840 SF), live/work retail (17,270 SF), and a restaurant (12,800 SF). These buildings shelter the urban garden which has interior elements including inhabitable steps for social gathering spaces, cooling pools, and planted trees for shade. 34








This project blurs the boundary between outside and inside by reinterpreting the typologies of a city within a city and a landscape within a landscape. The project addresses the emerging theme of culinary tourism. A multi-layered, interwoven experience is provided by utilizing strategies like elevating the built volumes and opening up the ground: an architecture of suspended density promoting social interaction. The ground becomes an extension of the adjoining Falls Park, encouraging more people to see and interact actively with the park. The buildings invite the public to visit and learn the different phases of the sustainable future of food production. The buildings are designed for flexible programming and adaptive reuse. The functions are organized vertically: more order and localized production apparent in the suspended masses, and distributed interaction and consumption happening on the ground. By lifting the masses from the ground, the project explores the theme of an architectural canopy creating contrasting light intensities in the spaces beneath and between the buildings, analogous to the trees in the Park. Responding to the counter culture evident in Greenville through the many festivals, the outdoor spaces become the avenues for these festivals and for promoting events in the community.






JIAYU ZHAO CHEN LIANG INTERWEAVINGS: GARDEN AND CITY The central concept of our project is an answer to local ecology by integrating buildings and community activities with topography and landscape to create some different weaving layers combined with abundant public space. The project extends and connects the green of the river and commerce of downtown into the site. The connection creates on-site ecosystems that surround and interact with the buildings. How to design an accessible site and some public spaces to attract more citizens and populations to the site and active the whole community? This project complex has commercial buildings beside the Main Street, sports center and mediatheque for the entire community. As for the outdoor open space, there will be a weekend market, outdoor sports area, playground, and some plazas. 46






JULIAN OWENS WILL MATHIS MARKET BY MAIN The Redefining Main Street project is a space which brings together and enriches the community. Over recent years, the city of Greenville, SC has developed into an attractive community for business, living, and leisure. This development has been centered about Main Street, which spans the city to reach Falls Park, Greenville’s main attraction. The site at which Main Street and Falls Park connect, currently occupied by the Greenville News Building, has become devoid of activity, creating a noticeable gap in the life of the city. This problem is addressed by extending Main Street into a new space for recreation and commerce which feeds into Falls Park. The central concept of the design is a large open market space comprised of a mixture of traditional commercial shopping and stalls used by local vendors. An axis running from the northwest corner of the site to the south serves as the main circulatory pathway through the site towards Falls Park. Supplementing the market space are an office tower, movie theatre, residential towers, restaurants, galleries, and an amphitheater, all looking to attract the various types of people one might find in Greenville. 52






MATT KELLY TYLER MCKENZIE FROM PLANT TO PLATE “From Plant to Plate” takes a holistic approach to designing a culinary incubator with spaces where food is grown, a culinary school where students learn to prepare food, and restaurants where patrons consume food. The culinary school will serve as a satellite campus for a neighboring city’s culinary school, and will include classroom spaces, kitchen spaces, living spaces, as well as an actual restaurant for students to get practical experience. Other restaurants are programmed into the space as well to supplement the culinary school and draw more people to the site. The presence of green infrastructure in the design promotes this idea of a sustainable and healthy food system as well. This “green infrastructure” comes in many forms such as multiple rooftop community gardens, vertical gardens featuring pocket gardens and a lattice structure on the facades of the incubator, orchards along the greenway and back of the site, and a composting area. Through this combination of program and green infrastructure a self-sustaining food system is achieved. 58






MICHELLE EDWARDS RACHEL CRANE SATURATING THE CITY Can a river, 11 times more polluted than safe water standards, desecrated by historic textile mill filth, and left barren by a catastrophic diesel spill, be naturally cleansed and used in a thermal bath to bring residents closer to nature and promote social interaction? Water cleaned through oxygenation, natural filtration, and bioremediation, serves as a basis around which a variety of programs on site are designed to create a sense of place, public space, and community interaction, allowing people to eat, work, and play by the water. The focus of the site falls to the thermal baths, where the newly cleansed river water can be truly appreciated and experienced through temperature, texture, sound, color, lighting, and unique spatial qualities. The baths attract a diversity of people to the city, initiating diverse human interactions by using old bathing traditions as a catalyst for change: an alternative form of cultural and social space in the downtown neighborhood. A luxurious environment for the public, the thermal baths design supports itself economically and becomes no burden to the city by using a regenerative cycle of river water as a source of heating, cooling, cleaning, and energy production. The answer: Yes, it can! 64








With a growth rate of 46%, Greenville population has grown much faster than the Upstate, South Carolina, and the United States. Therefore, it’s of vital significance that the citizens of Greenville become conscious about human impact on the ecosystem. The site offers an excellent opportunity to develop an urban ecological strategy while giving back to the community by a sustainable loop of natural resources. This project aims at creating an urban ecological environment through overlapping social life with a macro background of local eco-system. The building is located in the heart of Greenville, adjacent to the main commercial street and the waterfront of the Reedy River. A 36-foot fall across the site provides our building with panoramic view of the Falls Park. We also propose a central plaza and accessible courtyards to further integrate the landscape and the built environment. On a social realm, this project imagines a prototype of the micro eco - system in urban context instead of single function colossus, thereby lessens the cost of maintaining ecological sustainability and provides down to earth social values for the local community. The design creates breathing opening spaces to promote natural ventilation and daylight while engaging people with event-provoking public places.








interrupted CONTINUITY layers public spaces in an expansive urban network forming a connection between the active downtown institutional network and the relaxed natural environment of the adjacent river and park. An elevated public amenity space, connecting a public library, market, community center, and gallery, weaves through private anchor buildings, which house retail, offices, and other support facilities. Working in tandem, the terraced ground level public promenade, connecting the two halve of the site, creates a canyon-like experience and connects to the elevated public space through a series of stairs and ramps. The layering of these two public entities represents the future of public spaces. This project aims to create adaptable public space that would allow for smooth transitions in the future. Adaptable public spaces are vital to lasting urban environments. Built topography uses continuously transform, especially with technological advances and social changes. Dualities exist in many different ways in this project, the most obvious one being the contrast of public and private spaces. Not only are they represented programmatically, but materially and spatially. This active city within a city reinvigorates a highly transitional site by integrating public amenities in a sustainable way.






CHRIS SANDKHULER ELIZABETH WIDASKI JIMMY WOODS LANDSCAPE IN MOTION Landscape in Motion is a design project to revitalize public green spaces, establish cohesive transportation networks, and optimize urban functions. A civic center offers the city a much needed gathering space for conferences and exhibitions and a bus terminal acts as a transportation hub for the region while offering free bus services. This allows people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and lifestyles to access the downtown and their various workplaces in the region. The redesigned city block extends a designed green space from the city park’s waterfall through the center of the site, terminating it at the site’s northwest corner. This creates an opportunity to educate the public on the landscape of the area and how to bring sustainability into their lives. The project also inspires activity, offering a myriad of pedestrian paths, biking routes, and a connection to the trails of the park. Landscape in Motion is about finding inspiration in the natural movement of our surroundings from nature to city. Ultimately, the goal is to encourage people to live healthier, more sustainable lives helping both themselves and the community. 82








The project is an extension of the existing Park next to the site on the south, which incorporates the adaptive reuse of an old Newspaper Office building which is out of use. In this design, the site acts as an accessible connection from the downtown of the city to this Park along the river playing an important role for citizens passing through and links culture to community by creating a cultural district within the business district. This cultural district becomes the heart of the downtown of the city. The main program is the Cultural Arts Center Park (including exhibition space, gallery, education space etc. with supporting functions such as commercial, food and beverage, recreation etc.) and the new former Newspaper Headquarters are arranged into the site. The inherited old newspaper office is renovated as an exhibition spaces with an additional floor and a roof deck above. Contrary to the existing material of concrete used in the inherited Newspaper building, the additional level’s envelope is faced with strips of corten steel. The contrast of the materials between the inherited building and the addition informs the users of the difference between the new and old construction. The rest of the site is redesigned with the concept of connection: connecting pedestrians between downtown at the north of the site and the park at the south of the site, connecting them between the different programs within the site, connecting through courtyards and pathways on ground as well as those on the roof. This connection creates public spaces between the different buildings, creating diversity, welcoming pedestrians to explore the site, and inspiring gatherings and interactions.






CHELSEA ANDERSON YAGE CHEN CASCADE Cascade is an inversion of the typical corporate monumental tower; by turning on its side it intermixes users and public in a generous public space. This gesture promotes cyclical economics through a Learning Center for a car manufacturer; where people can train to work, learn about the company’s sustainable practices. The Learning Center includes many public amenities as well as a technology incubator for start-up companies. Cascade is a model for increasing the economic, social and environmental health of Main Street towns, by bringing back work life. Situated in the downtown, the 4-acre site sits as a barrier between Main Street and the city park. The large roof-landscape brings continuity by mixing the urban and natural conditions and works as a bioclimatic system by cooling and purifying the air for inhabitants and passers by. The existing building has been a beacon on Main Street since 1937 and was kept for its social and architectural prominence. The Learning Center totals 150,000 square feet of program with 50,000 square feet of office, classrooms, and remote work areas. The program incorporates 100,000 square feet of shared public use with a library, food court, bookstore, exhibition space, bank and restaurant. 94






JESS DANCER LAUREN GZRIBOWSKI AGRICULTURAL INFUSION Injecting a working culinary and brewing school into downtown Greenville will diversify the age, race, and economic status of the region. This project takes on these problems by fostering encounters between the public and students as a way of bringing people of different backgrounds together. Students of the school have the opportunity to work towards their education in order to pay off their tuition and graduate debt-free. The site contains four buildings: the brewery, renovated from the pre-existing Greenville News building, two multi-use educational buildings, and an apartment complex. Open courtyards and interior greenhouses are located in each academic building to fully immerse students within the growing landscape and blur the relationship between exterior and interior spaces. Terraced farmable land, used primarily to grow the barley and hops for the brewery (but supplemented by other crops), encapsulates the programmatic buildings and stretches into the adjacent park, connecting the park to the urban cityscape. The complex is intended to be self-sustaining: produce grown on site will be used for brewing processes as well as the culinary curriculum and excess food will be sold at the local farmer’s market to help supplement educational costs and the local economy. 100






Design Research in the Studio Context AIA COTE TOP TEN FOR STUDENTS