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PORTFOLIO 2007-2010

PORTFOLIO 2007-2010

Heather VanTrieste Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University College of Architecture + Urban Studies


2010 CESA Student Housing


European Residency: Travel Sketches + Drawings Institute of Cultural Anthropology (ICA) 8

2009 Primitive Hut Rainmaker’s Retreat

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House for a Single Dweller 24 Art of Building


2008 Museum for Wilhelm Lehmbruck

2007 Cube Baby Toy

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The drive behind this project was to create more student housing for the Center of European Studies and Architecture in Riva San Vitale, Switzerland. Constricted to a relatively small footprint, the project was largely an exercise in modularity. Rooms to house twenty students as well as apartments for two professors were necessary on this site.


REPETITIVE MODULE Site restrictions, such as footprint and height, were major influential factors in the design process. The concept behind the module was to create a rhythm across the site that fluxed in and out. The module itself, was created from two interlocking rectangular volumes that were then pulled apart to create common space held between them. This common space is also extruded up becoming a skylight or oculus that allows light to fill the space. The room volumes are then held within a long concrete volume that spans the entire length. A wooden rain screen runs along the outer surface of the livable spaces, both to add a warm touch to the cool concrete as well as to emphasize the fluctuating movement.

ADDRESSING SITE Untouched, the site (a grassy lawn) naturally terraces down in plateaus. In designing the building, the decision was made to step the rooms, mimicking and reflecting back to the way the land was in its original state. This also acted as a natural partition to seperate the student rooms from the professor apartments, seperating them without complete removal. Both rooves of the building are green rooves to replace what has been removed as well as to create a pleasant view for the houses that lie above the site.





TRAVEL SKETCHES + ANALYTICAL DRAWINGS CESA, the Center for European Studies and Architecture in Riva San Vitale Switzerland, was home to sixteen architecture students in the fall of 2010. As part of this residency program, we made our architectural pilgramage through Europe making sketches and taking pieces of our journey to carry back with us. Along with these sketches, analytical drawings as well as reflective essays helped to complete the collection.






The ICA is a multi-program building situated in the urban backdrop of Cincinnati, OH. The building functions not only as an exhibition space to display the work of the researchers and artists, but also as a residence and work environment. The two main design concepts behind the building are the act of puncturing and transparency. This was explored through a process of layering and intersecting volumes intended to create a unique environment that could function as a whole as well as on its individual levels.



STEEL PUNCTURING GLASS The outside shell of the building is made up of black aluminum panels that puncture and project through an implied glass rectangle. The metal and glass panels are all created within a specific sizing parameter that corresponds to the 10 x 10 square used within the floor plan. The irregular volumes held by the metal panels, puncture through this “glass box� and continue on past it, showing that they do not stop at the glass boundary but rather break through it.

BUILDING TRANSPARENCY The inside structure of the building consists of a great amount of glass and thin steel columns. Through this materiality, the building becomes quite transparent not only from the perspective of the onlooking but that of the visitor as well. While one moves through the building, they can see straight through to the other end but it is skewew by the many layers of angled glass. There is also a transparency throughout the layers that make up the building. The glass wells that puncture through the floor slabs allow the visitor to experience where they have already been but from a new perspective and angle.







The voids created by the geometry of the floor plan become light wells that puncture through the interior space. These glassed enclosures vary in the layers that they travel through, as well as in their size. The layered nature of the building creates a series of voids and overlapping floor slabs in which light is allowed to pass through. Some of these light wells are occupiable while some merely hold the light and create a transparency throughout the building. The concrete slabs that make up the floor allow light and shadows to play off of them.









A partner collaberation project for a third year competition. Through simple manipulation of pure geometry, a bold, continuous form is created.



ANECDOTE OF THE JAR WALLACE STEVENS I placed a jar in Tennessee, And round it was, upon a hill. It made the slovenly wilderness Surround that hill.

THE THIRD LANDSCAPE The answers we seek, as we look out onto a vast and endless landscape, are never black and white. They are filled with an ‘impalpable grayness’ *. The distinct lines we once drew between us, the ‘jar-placers,’ and nature blur. We are left squinting into the sun. It is in our nature as the ‘jar-placers,’ to use our architecture as a medium between the intangible and our own humanity. Our architecture is the inbetween. As we push past our initial blindness and pull ourselves into focus.

The wilderness rose up to it, And sprawled around, no longer wild. The jar was round upon the ground And tall and of a port in air. It took dominion every where. The jar was gray and bare. It did not give of bird or bush, Like nothing else in Tennessee.

* Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness 17




The rainmaker’s retreat is a space in which the rainmaker comes to pull the seemingly unordered world into focus. It is a space for study, for thought, for reflection. The retreat is a space of many layers being built up and stripped out. What one might consider disorienting at first glance, becomes clear over time as the order is slowly coaxed to the surface through experiencing the space within. The retreat also attempts to explore the boundaries between skin and space. Often brushed off an an afterthought, the concept of skin holds a connotation of being tacked on. However, where does this idea of skin begin and end? This structure explores the question of boundary line between the existence of the skin itself and the space in which it holds.


PROGRAM AND SITE The site for the retreat is a small clearing on a wooded mountain side in Blacksburg, Virginia. The clearing looks out upon the Blue Ridge Mountains as well as a limestone quarry. Like the project itself, the mountain side is the product of many layers, both natural and man-made. It is the layering of the building as well as that of the landscape that combine to create the bigger picture. The building itself is nestled in the clearing between the ridge that overlooks the quarry and the trees that make up the wooded area covering the rest of the mountain. The four programmatic sections of the retreat were placed in relation to these specific elements. The more private of rooms, the study and bedroom, were intentionally placed in the back close to the trees as to add another layer of privacy. The two more open rooms were placed in the front by the ridge where they were more open to the elements as well as where they would get the most sun through the cuts in the walls. While they are addressed individually they make up one


larger unified whole. Programmatically, there are four distinct rooms; living space, water room, study, and bedroom. Each of these four rooms were addressed to meet the specific feeling or needs each one seemed to need.

LIVING SPACE. The living space is the most open of all the rooms, and is seen as an indoor outdoor space as it is open to the elements through the cuts in walls and ceiling. This space has the greatest number of these cuts as they are all encompassing to the space. While there are many openings, the irregularity of their nature obscures and fractures the bigger picture of the landscape beyond the wall, creating an illusion that the mind seeks to complete. WATER ROOM. The water room is a space to collect water but looked at also as a room for personal reflection. This room is also open to the elements, however the cuts are focused on the ceiling with only a few that drip down the sides. Water is then able to collect and pool in the grade change of the concrete floor.

STUDY. As a place for thought, study, and reflection, the rainmaker’s study was addressed as one of the more private spaces. In order to let light in and still give views without distracting, the cuts in this room were stripped out from only the top and bottom, bouncing above and below the line of sight. BEDROOM. The bedroom was addressed as the most private of the four programs. In this room there was a balance struck between craving views and keeping the room more closed off. One main wall of the space, was heavily stripped allowing light to flow in, while still being shaded by the trees that lay behind it. The other walls were stripped minimally, as the cuts in the wall traveled up the ceiling and just barely down the back wall.


FROM LINE TO MATERIALITY When working within the world of line drawings, sometimes the threads that run through the projects fall flat. There becomes a potential to not realize the ideas to their full capacity and sometimes they leave us with the feeling that something is missing. This project allowed me to really push the threads and concepts that have evolved through previous works so that I could understand them in a more tangible sense. By using a mixture of media I was able to break free from the constraints of the line drawing to discover some really important things about the idea itself and about the project at hand. Much like the project itself, the images I created as tools of development were extremely layered. The final image was created using one initial media, which was then stripped, drawn on, and altered until the experience and feelings that the building should evoke shone through. Through this process I made many important decisions and could be intentional in every aspect of the design.






The architectural intent behind this project was to use contrast and layers to express varying degrees of enclosure. The form starts as a simple cube that is then broken up spatially by a network of steel members. The members carry a language throughout the building and create different spatial conditions on each level. The conditions are dictated by the amount of privacy each space requires, and therefor each space contains its occupants in a different way. The thirty foot cube is sectioned into three layers that get progressively more enclosed as the occupant moves upwards through it.


HOUSE INTERIOR As the dweller ascends through the house, it increases in its degree of enclosure through the expression and language that the linear steel members create as they weave through and intersect one another. The ground level holds the most public of spaces, in which the floor plan seems very open and almost transparent when occupied. As you move up, the second story of the house holds the intermediate spaces; which have been defined as programs such as the kitchen and dining areas as well as semi-enclosed living spaces. Space in this intermediate area is defined solely by columns as to create the feeling of enclosure without the use of walls. Finally, the most private spaces of the house are located on the third level. These rooms, such as the bedroom, bathroom, and study are enclosed by walls created by the intertwining of the steel members brought down from moments of intersection found on the ceiling and floor.

HOUSE EXTERIOR The house itself is set back within a heavily forested area, in order to create a sense of privacy through its remote location and also because the trees themselves continue in the act of layering the facade. The facade, like the interior, is a woven skin that is also the structural support for the buliding. Made out of steel, the members would weave, wrap and intersect to hold the space within.






The expression of the pure architectural intent in a line, color field, or form. The artwork then becomes another way to formally express the architecture in its raw state and idea.


LINE. The lines break up the simple cube into something more complex. The spaces are now irregular in shape and vary in size.

COLOR FIELD. A translation of the play between spaces into color; the lighter and flatter of the colors represent the more open spaces, the richer and more layered colors represent the more intimate spaces.

(above) watercolor and palette knife (above) watercolor and palette knife


Spatial contrast translated into color.

Juxtaposition Acrylic on Canvas 24 x 30�





A small scale museum to house a collection of sculptures, paintings, and etchings by Wilhelm Lehmbruck. The intent behind the museum was to use contrast between public and private spaces to create intimate moments of interaction between the observer and the sculpture, as Lehmbruck had intended.


MUSEUM EXTERIOR The lines created on the ground act as continuations from the glass members that are carried throughout the building. These lines were created as an abstraction of the interaction between the viewer and the sculpture. The path that they follow is not linear, but rather criss-crossing and interactive. The lines from the roof carry down the sides, anchoring the building to its site, while the lines that continue to cut through the grass pull the visitor into the building; once again showing the abstracted interaction between that of the visitor and the place itself.

MUSEUM INTERIOR Throughout the museum, viewing areas were created so that the visitor may view and experience the artwork like Lehmbruck intended. It was important not only that the visitor view the piece but experience and connect with the human emotions evoked in the many sculptures that he created. The slits of entrance and exit into these viewing pods were offset from each other so that the visitor would not be distracted by a long row of sculptures, but rather immersed in one individual. When walking through each wing of the museum, the visitor gets hinting reveals at the different pieces of work, pulling them towards and through the work as they go.






The goal of this project was to create a 4 x 4� cube out of wood that would open to reveal something.


The cube is made up of eight triangular pieces that are notched out in the center. Each of these eight pieces then revolve around a smaller cube measuring 2 x 2�. When the triangles are surrounding the cube, you are not aware it is there, but upon further investigation discoveries are made. When playing with the cube, many variations can be produced. These variations are interesting visually through shape while also producing interesting spatial situations.






The goal and focus of this project was to design a wooden baby toy, as well as create a container to house the toy in its state of rest. The limits of this project were that the toy must be crafted out of wood, the toy must be child safe, and the toy must not be made with any toxic finishes or materials.



TOY ITERATIONS One of the main goals of this project was to reach a final project through means of many iterations. There were many ideas for this toy that were sketched, modeled, and tested. The first iteration of the toy was a three piece wooden strawberry. With two fixed ends, the third and middle piece would be free to move back and forth making a clacking noise as it hit the top or bottom piece. The other part of this iteration would be texture to provide a surface that a baby would want to touch and hold. In the second iteration, there was a move from using a recognizable object to one that was more abstract. Instead of having three flat pieces, this piece had interlocking pieces that would notch into each other, much like a three dimensional puzzle. There were many iterations of this particular toy, such as experimenting with texture and sound. The final toy was a more streamlined version of the second iteration. Like the puzzle pieces of the second, this toy has three abstract pieces that lock into each other. The child can hold the toy by the rings on either end, and can interact with it in a number of ways such as through shaking and rolling on the ground.

CONTAINER ITERATIONS Many aspects were examined while designing the container. Is it a place for the toy to be stored or displayed? Is it open or closed? Like the toy there were many iterations for the container as well. The final product was a box in which the toy could be both stored away as well as displayed. The pieces of the box would slide open and closed and lock together much like the toy itself. Therefore the container itself would give some sort of reference to how one interacts with the toy once it is revealed. The box was crafted out of 1/4� maple in the same finish as the toy.



EDUCATION Virginia Polytechnic and State University, Blacksburg VA Bachelor of Architecture, May 2012 Relevant Coursework Graphics, Architecture IV, European Residency, Architecture III, Building Structures II (Concrete), Buliding Assemblies, Environmental Building Structures, Architecture II, The Art of Building, Basic Principals of Structure, Building Structures I (Steel), History of Architecture, Foundation Design Laboratory Haverford Senior High School, Havertown PA High School Diploma, June 2007 Relevant Coursework Introduction to Drafting, Advanced CAD, Architecture, Independent Study

WORK EXPERIENCE Robert Half International Wayne, PA Temp Agency - Worked for various companies doing many clerical duties and phone recruitment Kroger Grocery Store Blacksburg, VA Front End Supervisor - Manage the shifts and breaks of the front end clerks - Handle face-to-face enquiries from customers - Handle customer complaints or any major incidents - Issue customer refunds or compensations Uniquely Yours Gift Shop Havertown, PA Manager/Sales - Consistently meet daily projected sales goals set by store managers - Work in teams to conduct detailed inventory - Merchandise ordering, scheduling, and directing tasks


Autocad/Architectural Desktop, Rhino, 3d Viz Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Dream Weaver Word, Excel, Powerpoint Mono printing, Hand Drawing, Rendering, Watercolor, Collage and Mixed Media, Wood Shop, Modeling, Casting

Academic Work 2007-20010  

Student architecture portfolio