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JasotunraLl paoyrtfoeliol architec works





A new way of thinking about inhabiting and revitalizing a derelict riverside, celebrating a reconnection between a city and a water source that was crucial in its historical development.

Spring 2012 Professor W.G. Clark

Historically the city of Charlottesville, Virginia has been closely intertwined with the bordering Rivanna River. Inhabitants of the region have long since acknowledged the benefits of utilizing this watershed for farming, transportation, and the generation of power. Thomas Jefferson spearheaded several civil engineering alterations to the river in order to make transport of goods and produce along the waterway feasible; he considered this domestication of the river to be his greatest achievement. As Charlottesville has entered modernity, however, it has largely lost its imtimate connection to the Rivanna. The riverside corridor which was once home to farms, trading posts, and mills has been repurposed for highly industrial and automotive uses. The connection between city and river has become so diminished that most visitors fail to realize that Charlottesville has a river, and few locals experience the river on a regular basis due to its poor condition and lack of pedestrian accessibility. 2

Images from

Charlottesville Existing Conditions




Industrial Corridor Rivanna River Zone for Potential Sites

The Rivanna River winds its way around much of Charlottesville’s eastern edge, yet there are few moments where it can be experienced and enjoyed by residents in the area. The most influential factors that are limiting any potential interactions with the waterway are the presence of a rundown industrial corridor, little to no pedestrian access, and the river’s general lack of visible presence. It was clear immediately that any design aiming to reestablish a connection between the city and the river would have to address these issues at a large scale. Before any site-specific designing could take place, a thorough understanding of pedestrian and automobile flows were done at broad scales to understand the impact an intervention would have on the surrounding context and city as a whole. 3

Since a primary goal for the intervention would be to establish new pedestrian flows within nearby neighborhoods, studies were done in various nearby residential areas to visualize the existing qualities of pedestrian and automobile traffic. Studying these patterns revealed how existing industrial corridors were disconnecting neighborhoods from one another and eventually led to spatial ideas about how to reestablish connections among neighborhoods and with the river.

With existing conditions in mind, explorations were done to discover possible ways that connections could be reopened between these residential neighborhoods and the Rivanna River.


Automobile movement

Residential zones

Pedestrian movement

Zones of interest


Broader studies at the scale of the city identified common routes taken between the most popular attractions and destinations in Charlottesville. How would an intervention change (and potentially augment) these flows? 5





Zooming back in, a thorough analysis of the Rivanna River’s territory was done to identify key areas along the Charlottesville side of the river edge that any intervention would ideally address. In addition, a study of the vegetation and general state of the ecosystem of this area would foster ideas about how this project could potentially rehabilitate the natural environment in addition to simply providing housing and pedestrian access to the river.

Two lots were chosen for the site in order to foster a pedestrian connection from the interior neighborhoods to the river, through what now makes up the industrial corridor. Although punching through this corridor is a necessity for the goals of the project, the site was chosen with a certain sensitivity to existing businesses and infrastructure that belong to this industrial corridor. 7

The model of loft apartments was constructed to establish a relationship with an elevated pedestrian path leading to the river and to refine a building envelope that would celebrate views toward the river yet offer a reasonable amount of privacy for its occupants.



The mass of apartment units are distanced from the public pathway such that they may offer privacy and establish interstitial garden spaces. Yet, the architecture remains near enough to be prominently attractive to passers-by. This sectional study was done to determine how three similar apartment types might be arranged vertically to greatly limit the building footprint and offer elevated views to the water. These units share the same set of design principles but can potentially offer subtle and unique differences.




The design for the loft apartment unit calls for cutting away the northeast corner of the solid, allowing for transparency toward the primary view overlooking the forested river ecosystem. Because limiting the building footprint near the river is a priority, high ceilings, a double-height living area, and a compact spiral stair are employed as strategies to make the space feel as open and comfortable as possible with relatively limited planometric dimensions.

Plan, Loft Apartment mezzanine

Plan, Loft Apartment entry level




A reenvisioning of the Hudson Railyard that proposes architectural interventions that function as a matrix of conductors and switches for transmitting pedestrians through a Manhattan block in unexpected ways.

Spring 2009 Professor John Maze

At its core, this project was about a juxtaposition between the daunting verticality of the enormous corporate (private) program and an inviting and connective public landscape...


a juxtaposition between public and private, between scale and intimacy, between earth and sky. This project explores that juxtaposition which describes the character of Manhattan itself.


Cultural (public) program

Navigational switches and conductors

With corporate (private) program


A matrix of smaller and more publicly accessible interventions was set into the landscape. The public cultural components of the program for the project (3 museums) were incorporated into this network. These nodes are arranged in such a way that they preserve visual continuity between them across the expansive landscape. Like breadcrumbs, they provide an intuitive way for pedestrians to manage the large site intuitively.



Siteplan, 15th floor

Siteplan, ground level



A transverse site section illustrating the juxtaposition between the towering private program and the more intimate public cultural program of conductors and switches that nestle within the landscape. This stark contrast between scales is something unique to Manhattan and something that a project of this scale is able to play upon.







This three week charrette project addresses the problematic sprawling nature of typical suburban housetypes. The goal was to offer a denser and more vertical alternative, more conscious of its footprint on the land.

Spring 2011 Professor W.G. Clark

The concept for the prototype was to be a complete reimagining of the suburban house-type into a more vertical form with a more conservative footprint. The idea was that the result of this greater efficiency of space could lead to multiple dwellings occupying a single lot as a strategy to combat suburban sprawl. Initially, this project was to begin siteless to encourage the development of a prototype dwelling that would have the potential to respond well to many sites with only small modifications. As a result, a clear set of design principles emerged from a basic concept. Although a specific site was not a consideration at this early stage, orientation remained an important factor that influenced the form for the prototype. The three sides of the form that would be responding to direct southern sunlight were given an envelope that could become an armature for strategies for shading and privacy. The fourth face of the form was allowed to be more receptive and open to northern light. Various microclimate simulations were run on the primary spaces to test the effects of this strategy with regards to energy efficiency.


A series of plans were drafted in order to illustrate the unusually vertical and slender organization of spaces in the residence. Throughout all three levels, a prominent organizational principle guides the layout: the smaller circulation, storage, mechanical, and utility spaces are condensed toward the southern end of the residence.


The reasoning for this is twofold - to allow for more open and expansive plans for the living, dining, bedroom, and outdoor patio spaces, and to create a kind of natural shielding of these spaces from the southern afternoon sun, instead opening them up to the softer northern ambient light and primarily north-facing vistas.



Once a design was sufficiently developed, sectional studies were done to determine how several similar prototypes could work in concert with one another to form a new kind of suburban neighborhood that was conscious and responsible about utilizing land on a single lot. Opportunities arose to offer gardens in the interstitial spaces between dwellings and to establish a more significant connection between the architecture and the ground.



This prototype that was developed as a critique of suburban housing developments was eventually given a more specific site and topography to fit into at the end of the project. The street-facing facade offers privacy and vertical circulation while the opposite facade celebrates a scenic view, becoming a looking glass. More painting than technical drawing, this longitudinal section illustrates a sense of light, materiality, openness, and a profound connection to the outside: all opportunities that I feel are so often missed in suburban residential design.





The design of Charlottesville’s Food Hub sets out to create a public and didactic experience highlighting the cyclical seasonal processes of growing, harvesting, preparing, and consuming locally grown food within Charlottesville’s expansive regional foodshed.

Fall 2011 Professor Charles Menefee

Because a key component for the success of the project was an accessible link between food suppliers and consumers in Charlottesville, analysis was done to identify suppliers within Charlottesville’s regional foodshed and to determine the various routes their grown produce might take to reach consumers within the city.




Broad site mappings were done to identify key players in Charlottesville’s distribution and production of produce. Visualizing this encouraged the consideration of possible relationships that the design for the Food Hub might take advantage of.








The project proposes a large-scale strip of landscape (left) that will run through the urban fabric of downtown Charlottesville. Locally grown foods can conveniently be transported here at several access points for larger vehicles. Additionally, the site provides several zones designated for community gardens, where food can be grown directly on site. Once any produce is delivered on site, the promenade provides shards of architectural program that allow for storage, preparation, and consumption of the produce. By traversing this promenade, visitors will be able to experience and interact with this cycle of growth entirely, from growth to consumption. Of the three primary architectural shards in this landscape, one was focused on to achieve a higher level of architectural resolution. This southernmost intervention functions as a restaurant for the preparation of the produce grown on site. 43




Once we can celebrate where our food comes from and the journey it takes to reach us not just observe it, but truly experience it: to plunge our hands in the earth and feel its warmth and its resistance - we might feel truly connected to a place.

The cyclical patterns of harvesting food become a constant reminder of the dynamic nature of our place in the cosmos. True architecture will remind us of the fragility and wonder of these patterns: the incredible notion that these cycles and everything we depend on for life arises through a dance between great orbs in a void.


Jason Layel | Architectural Portfolio  
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