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Virginia Tech Class of 2013 Bachelor of Architecture

Jonathan Hiser

Thesis Exploration Philadelphia, PA Fall 2012 - Spring 2013

A Study of Interaction

This year long endeavor rooted itself in a desire to study people interacting in an urban environment. Initial readings focused on the nuances of people, strangers, as they went about their daily lives. Stranger interaction occurs in the public realm. This includes plaza spaces, rail cars, buses, sidewalks, or anywhere people move or congregate. Located in the north part of Philadelphia, the thesis project evolved into a mixed use block combining commercial, transport infrastructure, and a performing arts center. Focusing on creating spaces to encourage social interaction led to development of outdoor public space, a rail platform, and a theatre space.

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City Movement

Urban Lab Observatory Cincinnati, OH Spring 2011

The Urban Lab Observatory was an opportunity to study cities and design a building to facilitate studying cities. Cincinnati, Ohio provides a lens for studying cities, searching for universal aspects of cities. The Urban Lab Observatory provides housing, galleries, and studio space to study and connect to the city. It takes a moment from the site, at an intersection, and uses it as a driving force. As traffic lights operate, cars compress and expand at the intersection. This is shown through the gradient on roads in the site plan, and creates the form seen below.

The diagram below tracks movement up ramps, stairs, and elevators over the same vertical distance. The site is roughly the same width as an intersection and provides a grid to work on, compressing at the corner to provide form for the building. The facade features concrete panels on the “stationary� parts of the building, with terracotta tiles wrapping around the stationary and emphasizing circulation

Friendship Retirement Community Roanoke, VA Spring 2012


In cooperation with Friendship Retirement Community in Roanoke, VA, this project aims to design for a growing retirement population. The goal was to provide clusters of houses with focused public space to encourage resident interaction in order to build a stronger community. The interaction scales down to pairs of cottages with a common driveway and outdoor patio. The goal was also to create “open� spaces through lifting the roof to bring in light to making an open floor plan, combining the kitchen, dining, and living space.

A transverse section shows how the roof lifts up, allowing direct light in during winter, and shading in the summer. Small study models test various arrangements as they relate to creating spatial conditions for social interaction The floor plan reveals one large open living space, with smaller private spaces grouped around it. The spaces transition from the bedrooms (private personal space) to the living area (private group space) to an outdoor patio (public space), as seen in the longitudinal section. The structure, roof lifting, and nested sun room space is visible in a rough model. The sun room was a direct response to current resident requests and paired with the light shelf used to bring light deeper into the living space.

The Hearthstone is a mixed use fire station, housing, and public space project on a small lot in Alexandria, VA. In conjunction with a nearby recreation center, elementary school, and housing, the project allows for interaction between firefighters and the community. This interaction comes from providing a fire pit for hosting cookouts, the always popular fire station barbeque, or for teaching fire safety. The glass structure becomes an icon, anchoring the Hearthstone to the surrounding community. It houses the lobby, information center, and community meeting space.


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Rec Center

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Smoke-Signal: A warning provided through the use of smoke. The Smoke-Signal Tower and Museum work to educate and warn the public about the misunderstood nature of wildfires. Wildfires take life, but at the same time give new life to the forest by burning out the undergrowth. They are necessary to keep a forest full of life, but also threaten the residential communities built closer and closer to the forests edge.

vIrgInIA tech trAvel progrAM europe fAll 2011

europe Study AbroAd

Virginia Tech offers a 70 day European Travel Program for Fourth year Architecture Students. As a part of this program, the group traveled to various cities in Europe, including 10 days of Independently planned travel. This included 23 cities, 10 countries and over 5000 miles. Traveling included exposure to numerous cultures, languages and meant countless sketches and photographs; all of which involved studying modern and historic architecture. The program provided invaluable experience.

The image and sketch below are from SANAA’s Zollverein School of Design. The sketch reveals the geometric nature and rigorous attention to detail in the form work and floor plan. The other sketches focus on the geometry in the Pazzi Chapel, and the layering in the Lisbon Oceanarium

Work Samples  

Selected projects and work samples, Sep. 2013

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