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Capstone Process Journal: Spring 2014

Written by Melissa Estrada, LEED速 Green Associate Edited by William Biss


First published in the United States of America in 2014  by Chatham University  120 Woodland Rd, Pi sburgh, PA 15232    All rights reserved.  No part of this publica on may be reproduced in any  manner whatsoever without permission in wri ng by  the author and/or Chatham University 


Dedication This journal is a comprehensive pictorial documentation of my process designing the capstone project at Chatham University, Spring 2014. It is an expression of the ups and downs, challenges and hurdles that I was faced with over the course of the semester. My hope is that future designers can use this as a reference and inspiration that you are not alone when you hit designer’s roadblock! Trust me, it happens, to the best of us. Enjoy!


Napkin sketch of my ideas over Christmas break prior to capstone


TABLE OF CONTENTS 

Introduction to the Project



Meeting with the OPDC



Week 1: (1/7-9/14) - Milestone 1



Week 2: (1/14-16/14)



Week 3: (1/21-23/14) - Milestone 2



Week 4: (1/28-30/14)



Week 5: (2/4-6/14)



Week 6: (2/11-13/14)



Week 7: (2/18-20) - Milestone 3



Week 8: (2/25-27)



Week 9: (3/4-6/14)



Week 10: (3/11-13/14)



Week 11: (3/18-20)



Week 12: (3/25-27/14)



Week 13: (4/1-3/14)



Week 14: (4/8-10/14)



Week 15: (4/15-17/14) - Final Presentation


It’s finally here! The first day of Capstone 2014, and I am so excited to have made it this far! I have known what my capstone project would be about from the time I entered the MIA program, so I’m thrilled to finally be able to execute it through design. The undergrad and graduate IAR students are meeting today to get acquainted and discuss what

is

expected

of

us

this

semester. We have the potential to partner with a landscape student on this project if they have chosen the same

site

and

have

a

similar

concept. This can be a great benefit to experience integrated design at a collegiate level, so I’m hoping to get the opportunity to do so! -Introduction (1/7/14) 6  


Here’s Wanda!


Wanda E. Wilson, the CEO and Executive Director of the Oakland Planning and Development Corporation, paid us a visit to offer a brief rundown of what it is they do for the Oakland area, the changes they are looking to make, and how we can assist them with our design proposals. Prior to this, I printed out and skimmed through the 2025 Master Plan to see if they had any goals that were relevant to mine. I asked about why certain buildings were chosen for our capstone over others, to which she informed us that we can essentially select any building we want, pending approval. -OPDC Meeting

8  


On the second day of class, we had to present an infographic of our previous research. We essentially had less than two days to create this pictorial/informational representation of all the research we did in the proceeding 14 weeks (and in my case, 2 years prior!). This was an interesting challenge, but it also definitely set the level of intensity that we would be working under for the remainder of the semester. The final graphic was created using PhotoShop. -week 1

10  


12  


The photos on the three preceding pages were all taken on site in the same day. The first time I went to the sites was just so I can get a feel for what kinds of buildings we had to work with. The second time I went, I selected 3 buildings to hone in on, sat at each location for an hour, and monitored

the

pedestrian

and

vehicular traffic patterns of the area, local amenities, and current site conditions. I actually don’t really do to well in the cold, and this winter was brutal, but these are the “perks” of the profession! This research served as a great benefit for this project moving forward though. -week 2 14  


So here is the data that I collected from the site research. I created a list

of

questions

that

I

wanted

answered for myself prior to going out there so I knew exactly what to look for. I tallied everything up, took the photos, and then compared my findings to determine which building would be the best fit for this project. Looks like the buildings on the corner of Centre and Melwood has a lot for my to work with as far as location. Now its just a matter of deciding which

building

would

be

better.

Hopefully that question would be answered when I present my findings at the second Milestone. -week 3 16  


These are some graphics that I created using SketchUp in order to document my findings from the site research. I started by creating the building masses on the sites by importing Google maps into the file. I’m doing this so I can get into the habit

of

creating

graphical

representations of statics and data for presentation purposes. The initial infographic assignment fostered that skill, and I found it very useful then. I decided to include things that were important

to

me,

such

amount

of

street

as

the

amenities

(lampposts, bus stops, mailboxes, hydrants, trees, etc.) to quickly compare what each site offered. -week 3 18  


These are the final results that I came up with. I decided to take all of the data that I gathered from the site

visits

and

narrow

the

presentation down to just numbers and images. The charts that I created helped as well to easily compare the findings for each site. Seeing it in this way helped me to get a better feel for what I was working with as well, and I know these will come in handy and can be used as part of my final graphics in the end...An issue that I ‘m having now is figuring out how to tie my previous research to this site... -week 3

20  


Since my previous research was conducted for the New York City demographic, I now have to figure out how I can cater it to what is needed

in

Pittsburgh.

For

the

Graduate Research Methods class (that I took 2 years ago), I focused on the issue of overcrowded living conditions for low-income families living in NYC. Overcrowding is not so much of an issue in Pittsburgh, so I now have to do further research to see what are the issues. A high rate of low-income families seems to be an

issue,

according

to

some

literature I found. I’m going to have a lot of work to do... -week 4 22  


North Oakland’s new identity and prefabrication as a building method


This week I spent a lot of time continuing to research how I can tie in my thesis paper to Pittsburgh, especially

to

this

demographic.

According to the OPDC and a few other sources, people aged 18-24 rank among the highest that are currently residing in North Oakland, due

to

the

vast

amount

to

universities in the area. Because of this, I started looking into what would be suitable living for college students in transition from academia to “real world.” Bob also mentioned to

me

that

prefabrication

is

a

building method that can potentially cut costs, which could

be great

when designing for residents of low -income. -week 4 24  


This week I also revisited the site a couple times because I was at a complete loss as to how to start programming the building. If this is supposed to be a renovation project, I’m thinking, I should at least know what the current conditions are that I am renovating. The class was given minimal

information

about

the

buildings to start off, so anything as far as layouts, elevation heights, etc. that we needed to know we had to figure out for ourselves. Luckily, I was able to get inside of my building (which immediately tells me there’s a security issue!). Here are some sketches

I

took

of

the

interior

circulation patterns. -week 4 26  


Upon conducting my site research (taking photographs and sketches of the

interior

building, current

and

online owners,

exterior

of

the

research

of

the

property

worth,

demographic research, etc.) I then started to draw up some visions of what I had for the new space. I started with the exterior because those images were clearer in my mind as to what that would look like. It needed to look new, fresh, vibrant, and modern. The prefab and LEGO brick

research

also

began

to

influence this, prompting me to create

a

façade,

somewhat

green

crisscrossed

staggered

spaces, glass

and

a

walkway

overhead. -week 5 28  


Even

though

a

construction

documents set was not required this semester, I still took it upon myself to start one (I’m an over achiever, what can I say!). In addition, I felt like I would be doing myself an injustice if I spent all that time learning how to put a set together in the previous semester and then not use those skills at all in the final. I may not even turn this set in for grading, but just to be able to say that I did it for my own self benefit would be good enough for me! The following pages show the CD sheets that were created throughout the semester... -week 5 30  


32  


Process sketches for how the units should be laid out


I mentioned the LEGO research before, but here is where I went a little more in-depth with it. It started to occur to me that the LEGO brick is the most fundamental building block, after seeing all those images of prefab construction. I questioned why aren’t LEGOs (or at least the concept pieces)

of

interlocking

more

building

readily

used

nowadays. So I did more research on those, studying the proportions of the pieces, how they came to be, and where they have been used as a demountable

building

already.

could

This

material

actually

be

perfect for flexible living spaces in my apartment units! -week 6 34  


We are now at week 7, or Milestone 3! This week we have to present our findings,

research,

and

concept

images thus far, as well as where we are headed in the research. This is the poster that I created to present all of that information to 4 jurors and my colleagues. I’m a little nervous today

because

I

feel

like

my

connection between my previous research and what I’m working with now still is not solid, so hopefully I can get some clarification on that today moving forward. The main feedback that I received so far is that the presentation flowed well and they knew exactly why I was doing what I was doing, they just needed me to keep going with it. -week 7 36  


Great news: upon presenting my mid -semester

design

concept,

I

recognized that Derek Jones (MLA) was working on the same site of my building. This is something I’ve been trying to find out all semester! We spoke briefly after the presentations about our concepts and where we were headed. We had a similar redevelopment vision, so we decided to partner up. I set up an initial meeting for that following weekend with Derek, myself and a colleague of mine who is a PhD candidate in electrical

engineering.

It

was

a

meeting of the minds! It felt great to experience a collaboration like that, even though it’s already mid way through the semester. -week 8 38  


After speaking about Land Banking legislation at our Urban League Young Professionals general body meeting, I thought Aerion Arby would be a great person to speak with about my proposed project. I met with

him

on

February

24th,

explaining to him my proposal. He then

referred

me

to

Marimba

Milliones of the Hill CDC. He says she knows everything there is to know about funding for a lowincome

housing,

and

the

role

community organizations play. -week 8

40  


Carl Redwood, Jr


This week I started transferring my hand sketches of the block diagrams into CAD. The spaces I’m focusing on for now are the residential units, again taking their sizes and proportions from LEGO bricks but still trying to figure out how prefabrication would realistically work in this building. I also attended a conference at CMU on March

8th,

Environmental

which and

focused

on

Reproductive

Justice. Here I met Carl Redwood, Jr, Director of the Hill District CDC. He held a workshop on gentrification in the Hill and the negative affects it has on the community today. I spoke with him about my design proposal as well. -week 9 42  


While studying for my LEED GA Exam, a spark came to mind as to how the architectural components would look in section, with varied elevations creating an interesting floor

and

purposeful

ceiling

plane.

staggering

of

The the

components accounts for the extra plumbing and duct space needed for some components (i.e. bathroom and kitchen) as opposed to others. I’m not quite sure how this would work realistically since I’m not a plumber by trade, so hopefully Bill or Bob could give me some clarity on this soon! -week 9

44  


Well I finally get to take a little breather...but not really! This week is spring break, which means I have a break from attending class, but I’m still working just as hard as ever. Work, LEED GA exam, and getting this design complete is still a priority. This is a screenshot of me working on the format/layout of the final portfolio. I just need to lay out all of the information I plan to include and I will worry about the look of it later ...I am also proud to announce that I passed the exam on the first try, so as of March 13, 2014 I am officially a LEED Green Associate! -week 10

46  


Since much of the resources that I sited throughout the semester are located in New York City, I took the liberty of going over there during spring break in attempt to see these things in person. The Lego Store in Rockefeller Center and the Resource Furniture store in Times Square served well with finalizing much of my

design

Furniture

hurdles.

focuses

Resource on

creating

furniture pieces that are flexible and modular

and

cater

to

multiple

functions. It makes sense that their flagship location is in New York, since there tends to be a lot of small living quarters there, with residents wanting to make the most of their space. -week 10

48  


Still got to figure out the how to create the slope of the land. Maybe Derek could help wit this...

New main residential lobby


This week I started doing some test renderings just to see the quality that I’m getting (and because I’m anxious to see how the design is evolving!). Here, the exterior of the building isn’t even complete yet, but I did start playing

around

with

balcony

placement and color schemes. The Modern is Tech® color palette from PPG

Voices

of

Color

definitely

caught my eye for the concept that I’m working with, so I decided to incorporate that all throughout the project. Here, I started using it in the carpet

and

stair

treads.

This

particular carpet is from Interface Flor Shuffle-it® program, which uses leftover

samples

from

different

collections at a fraction of the cost. -week 11 50  


My first 3d print!


The age of 3-Dimensional printing (or Z-printing) is upon us, and ever since I’ve learned of it I’ve wanted to experiment with it. I figured with the whole prefabrication theme of LEGO parts that I had going on, this would be a perfect opportunity to use 3D printing to demonstrate how the multiple parts all “snap” together. I first had a to take a class to demonstrate my knowledge of using the

machines.

This

class

was

offered at the TechShop™ Pittsburgh location in Bakery Square. My first text print was of an elephant with legs and trunk that were possible. Technology is so fascinating! -week 11 (3/19/14)

52  


This

week

I

architectural

started

researching

presentation

boards

and potential layouts I can use. I’m also

still

modeling

working the

on

spaces

drafting/ for

the

remainder of the building. I think I’ve finally reached an ideal unit layout which

consists

of

5

main

components, but it’s still a bit confusing to me as to how these prefabricated

pieces

would

be

brought into the space if this were to be a real renovation project. I may actually have to revisit the whole idea of using prefab in this building altogether, but then the challenge is how do I now present this. I have to really hone in on the main idea of this proposal... -week 12 54  


My presentation boards went through so many iterations, it’s not even funny! I purposely started laying them out at least three weeks in advance because I knew it would take me a while to figure out the best way to most effectively convey two semesters worth of information, This was no easy task, to say the least! I essentially spent the last several weeks of the semester just revamping the boards, showing them to numerous people so I can get as much

feedback

on

them

possible. This definitely when

it

comes

to

effective presentation,

as

helped

creating

an

because I

wanted it to be as clear and concise as possible...after all, this is a competition! -week 13

56  


In the midst of revamping my boards what felt like hundreds of times, my MLA partner Derek and I were still working together on the exterior views of the building. These are a couple progress shots of a water catchment

system

that

he

was

proposing to attach to the perimeter to harvest the rainwater. The other is an issue that arouse with the level of the building that I drafted with the slant of the landscape that he designed. We had to figure out a way to make the two mesh better together . This would have been a great time to have an architect on the project as well, but we just had to work with what we had for now! -week 14 58  


Wow! So in the last hour I decided to restructure the entire board layout and

presentation!

This

was

a

necessary change based on the unanimous feedback I was getting from everyone: the idea is not clear! Greg Galford even asked me to summarize the design intent in 2-3 words on the spot and I couldn’t do it.

“Building

more

sustainable

communities by engaging the current residents and increasing their value economically and socially” had been my focus all along, but I neglected to make that connection until now. I am so glad I did though, because everything became so much clearer after

that!

confidently

Now

I

propose

can my

more ideas.

Thanks everyone! -week 14

60  


The last couple of days approaching presentation

consisted

of

long,

sleepless nights getting the final renderings

right,

revamping

the

board layout and the method of me presenting the information a couple more

times,

going

over

the

presentation solely based on what was on the boards, gathering all materials and making some jury cards to hand out. All of this preparation

definitely

paid

off

though...the jurors loved it! The presentation flowed well, everyone was

on

board

with

my

design

proposals, but most importantly I learned how to effectively present my ideas through graphics and design layouts; an invaluable skill I would be able to take with me

for many

design proposals to come! 62  


Estrada Capstone Process Journal  

This journal (taken as an independent study course) actually documents the process I went through in creating my capstone project. I could'v...