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KSU Risman Plaza Renovation Kent, Ohio

Payto Architects, Inc |09-10 Justin Maine


With its Centennial Celebration quickly approaching, Kent State University felt it was the perfect time to re imagine the heart of the campus, the Student Center. The plan was to revitalize the space where an exuberant amount of activity takes place; between the faculty, students and prospectives exploring their possibilities with joining the university. A complete renovation to the greens and hardscapes would be necessary to convey a fresh approach to the student-body interaction, while enhancing the elements what would remain in place. In conjunction with this renovation, led by JJR Associates, Inc., the removal of the current transit shelter would necessitate the design and construction of a new structure; one that would open up site-lines and provide a complimentary contrast to the brick and mortar already heavily used in the plaza.

Murin Gardens

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The design of the transit shelter went through numerous changes, to reflect the needs and visions of the University Architects and Administration. Each scheme represented a certain element that was considered to compliment the exisiting kiva center, onto which it would be ultimately attached.

After careful consideration of the budget and acknowledgment of program requirements, an open-air concept was decided upon, with a simple curve motif that would hug the exterior of the building, while creating a covered canopy for occupants to use while waiting for transporation. The flexibility of the design would also allow for expandable future phasing, if the need for growth permitted it.


While not having the luxury of being fully enclosed, the new transit shelter had the task of providing a good barrier against the often inclement weather of Kent, Ohio, as well as exuding a sense of safety to the occupants. Creating a covered promenade that wrapped into the existing passageways of the student center and kiva would allow for consistent, covered travel. It would also provide an opportunity to introduce a living green roof on the canopy, in order to support an alternative construction on traditional rooftops. The majority of this endeavor would come from a grant by the state of Ohio.


In addition to the task of creating a smooth transition from the new structure to the existing building, transitions between the different materials would allow for opportunities in creative detailing. Pairing a refined metal finish with the coarse nature of the brick created a balance between traditional and contemporary, allowing the university to portray a progressive mentality, while holding strong to their academic roots.


From initial conception through completion of construction, the vision remained clear. Provide a purpose for an under-utilized area of the student center, while creating a new visual vocabulary upon which the university could build. The collaboration with the school as well as other disciplines has resulted in improved amenities for the students, and a step towards the new image that Kent State University will project to the surrounding community, and beyond.


One Size Fits Most. Cleveland, Ohio

Graduate Studio - SU|07 Professor Strand Justin Maine


An analysis of repetitive faculty offices leads to new possibilities in function and merging.


A possible solution to self-expression, within a predetermined grid. This system would utilize existing infrastructure found in the curtain-wall, lining the front of the offices.


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Documentation of the proposed site results in a series of sketches that represent the layers that currently reside. Each layer represents a screen of penetrability, and creates a barrier for the user to overcome, in order to get to the next. This meshing of layers sets up a fluctuating zone of Passive/ Active interaction.


Relationships between seemingly dissimilar programs have the opportunity to become influential on one another, based on their adjacent locations. Likewise, the programs have the opportunity to influence the repetitive space they occupy, both on the interior and exterior. In conjunction, the stack-able forms lead to a greater shape.


Various circulation paths converge in one location. Opportunities are created for Passive/ Active Interation.


As the programs interacts with the skin of the building, the function of the spaces begin to reveal themselves to the public. Acting as Urban Curtains, various activities taking place within the context of the structure add an additional layer to the existing landscape and the people who use it.


Ohio City Urban Renewal Cleveland, Ohio Graduate - FA|06 Professor Kurtz Justin Maine


A place like Ohio City could be considered the underdog of the Greater Cleveland Area, if one could believe for a moment that Cleveland itself has a lot to offer. A peculiar spot on the map, Ohio City is not quite far enough West to be preferred by the affluent, nor does it have as many amenities as its neighbor across the river, Downtown Cleveland. What it has done successfully, however, is simply survived. Through political wars and potential land acquisitions, Ohio City has been able to keep a sense of identity, though not without glaring omissions to its urban make-up. An exploration in the needs of the city led to varying programs, from music complexes to artists-in-residence. An in-depth study on one of its major streets, Fulton Road, revealed a lack of identity and direction, that would often lead to confusion and apprehensiveness while navigating the street. Its vast collection of building types that populated the sides of Fulton were interjected with a number of barren lots that contributed to the lack of a cohesive environment. It was proposed that the development of the plaza on the southern end of the street could begin to rehabilitate the existing fabric into a more cohesive space, with defined areas designed to accommodate the new and old functions. Creating clear, public spaces that would support the surrounding neighborhood would create an urban connection, and encourage movement and engagement with the immediate environment.


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A challenge was to define the limits of an insertion into the existing fabric; it would have to work with the space available, but also reflect the promise of new programs working in harmony with the established context. Visual weight would be necessary to make the new language feel grounded, but loose enough to allow it to flow where it could be most beneficial to the site.


Benefactors

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Religious Affiliates

Residential Housing

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Based on the collected research and visits to the site, it was decided that a rehabilitation center for the unemployed and homeless would provide much of the new language to the revitalization of the plaza, making use of the already existing infrastructure. The new space would have to be able to provide new functions for the surrounding area, such as an addition to the under utilized library, as well as providing a day care center to the single-parent homes in the immediate neighborhood. These new programs would be able to use and benefit from systems and facilities already in place, such as the numerous churches, restaurants, and retail shops. Creating an environmental impact on the urban context was just as important as creating a cultural one. The new facilities would be consulting with the local U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), Cleveland chapter, on creating programs for the wellness center, as well as encouraging adjacent organizations to participate. The incorporation of vertical gardens and long-term energy plans would be vital in the creation of this new urban center.

Program

Intellectual Wellness Center/ Health Clinic/ Smoking Lounge/ Bank/ Courtroom/ Salon/ Gym/ Aquatic Exercises/ Library Extension/ Interactive Classrooms/ Day Care/ Playground/ Interaction of Public Spaces


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Urban Design Museum Rome, Italy

Junior Year - SP|05 Professor Role Justin Maine


The Physical Landscape in a city such as Rome has the ability to simultaneously frustrate and awe an engaged traveler. Tight and congested alleys give way to monumental corridors, that seem to unforgivingly pierce through the urban fabric. With a hope to better understand and appreciate these seemingly random gestures, it had been proposed to create a space that would educate the curious. A museum, perhaps, that would become a steward for the depiction of 18th and 19th Century Urban Design, represented by large-scale, physical models, as well as archival maps. It was envisioned to create a design that would reect and embrace the methods and motifs of prior generations, that have still maintained a poignant presence in the existing fabric of the city. While reecting the architectural culture of the environment, the treatment of the façade would need to convey an evolutionary step in the design process, and showcase the abilities of current construction practices. Much like the contents this building would eventually house, it would have to convey the notion of progress, while respecting, to a degree, its predecessors.

With a prior analysis of historical facades, entry sequences and contextural impact throughout Rome and the Tuscany area, great emphasis was placed on the composition and hierarchy of the skin that would ultimately wrap the building. A comparison of solids versus voids shows a strong lean toward verticality.


An emphasis on approach would be a key factor in designing the exterior. Discovering the structure from one of the main avenues that parallel the river would allow for a visual play with the façade’s opacity. As distance from the exterior diminishes, the more the façade dissipates to reveal another layer to its composition. While a retraction of the facade’s skin would imply a deconstructive view on the historic context in which it sits, it also suggests the notion of Layered Order, much like the aggressive transitions Rome’s Urban Design experienced during its history of development. What starts as a dense front to the public realm ends in a methodic reveal. Despite its gesture of exposure, it still throws a veil over what exactly is being housed on the interior. It gives glimpses through its narrow windows, but insists on the viewer becoming the occupant. The structure reassures the wanderer that a deviation from the normal awaits inside, but promises the substance to be rich with cultural heritage.


Urban Analysis: Palace Studies Italy

Junior Year - SP|05 Professor Role Justin Maine


Palazzo Pitti

- Florence, Italy

Understanding the creative and theoretical process behind urban development in the Tuscany area led to several analyses of old family homes and palaces in the heart of the city. When considering Palazzo Pitti, its physical presence sets the stage for immense grandeur. The architecture dramatically affects its environment, and produces an emotional response onto the occupant of the piazza; something that would normally not be felt outside of the immediate context. It becomes crucial for the surrounding urban landscape to reinforce the focal point through hierarchy and continuity. For Palazzo Pitti, the entrance sequence begins has soon as the occupant enters the piazza, whose direction is led up the center, into the entrance of the palace. Passing through a high barrel-vaulted ceiling leads into a colonnade of arches, framing the exterior view. Beyond this colonnade lies an interior courtyard, which is lavishly applied with ornamented columns and cornices. The space itself is an exercise in proportion and volume, creating a sense of enclosure, while still directing the eye towards areas that have not yet been encountered. Once traveled across, the courtyard ends at a small grotto built into the hillside. This is effectively ends the ďŹ rst entry sequence. Beyond the grotto lies a outdoor auditorium and garden, that takes the occupant further into the property of Palazzo Pitti.

Early nineteenth century etching


Palazzo Farnese

- Rome, Italy

One of the most unique aspects of Rome is its exquisite facades and street treatments that give the city a grand vitality. The majority of the facades are based off classical composition theories, and a breakdown of the skin of the building can reveal some of the techniques that the architects must have applied when it was being created. Palazzo Farnese lends itself to critique and exploration when observing this traditional concept for design thinking. Overlapping squares, repeated intervals, and pockets of spaces sharing the same diagonal were some of the initial breakdowns. Solid versus void shows the lack of penetration into the vertical surface, while a study in the application of ornamentation versus flat walls can show the heaviness of the facade. The hierarchy of design pieces is evident in the simplification of the horizontal application, such as the transitions between floors and the perimeter edges. These areas are emphasized with substantial moldings and ledges. A final extraction of the layers of the facade into related groups helps to see what ornamentation is meant to catch the eye, and what is meant to blend into the overall composition.

Early nineteenth century etching


Dead Space: A study in Fabricating Environments & Atmospheres 2009-10 Justin Maine


Once in awhile, architecture has the ability to create an environment that is not typically experienced in the everyday. These environments are usually fabricated for one purpose; to spark an emotional response from the viewer. Often, these environments are destination-based, ranging from a museum exhibit to an attraction at a theme park. The good ones make for an enjoyable day; the superior ones leave an imprint on people’s memories. Typically, an attraction is limited by the common perception that it is fake; and should be treated with a certain amount of apathy. One could argue the point that an attraction is no more artificial than the car a person drives in, the house they live in, or the office building commuted to every morning. Every item and space has been created for a specific purpose, and is expected to fulfill that function to a satisfactory degree. A short jaunt on an attraction should provide the same results. The difference in the attraction lies in the ability to appear “real”; in effect to suspend one’s disbelief, and submerge them into the moment.

Few attractions have been able to successfully pull the audience into the moment completely, but there are instances. Currently, in locations around the world, Disney’s © Haunted Mansion continues to mystify, delight, and in some cases, scare its occupants through crafted environments, and eerie atmosphere.


Door Concept

Model Layout

Urn Stand/ Light Box Concept Path of Vehicle

Utilizing the 1:12 scale for detailing, a physical model was produced, interpreting one of the opening scenes from the attraction. Because of the pace that the vehicles move through the space, it becomes vital for the scene to be quickly set up, revealed, and generally understood, before being moved into the next section.


Imagery and Faces An unsettling motif occurs throughout the environment; giving the viewer the feeling of being watched. In varying degrees of subtleness, faces and eyes appear in a variety of ways, from the architecture to the furniture. Even if the viewer does not consciously register that they are looking at a face, the unusual patterns and shapes reinforce the notion that something is amiss. All of this supports a theory that an unseen force is warping the spaces into an alternate version of the original.

Treated Walls Perhaps one of the most iconic visuals from the mansion is the wallpaper that stares menacingly at the occupant through the first half of the attraction. With a twist on the original concept, the version reproduced here slowly awakes from its slumber as the vehicle travels through the space.


Sequence and Reveals To ensure a plausible environment, the viewer needs to be eased into the surroundings. The order in which the viewer witnesses the events taking place must make sense, so that they can accept the situation more willingly. The scene discussed on these pages provides just that; it gives a taste of the supernatural, captures the viewers attention, but does not give the chance to be scrutinized. The architecture of the room and the way it is entered dictates how the scene will be revealed. It holds just enough detail on the periphery to keep the eye busy, until the supernatural element is presented to the viewer.

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Details, details... A successful environment provides details to enhance the experience, thereby reinforcing the believability of the moment. Context clues give hints to what has happened, what has yet to come, and once in awhile, what will never be. All of these are glimpses into the world that the spectator has stumbled upon.


Up, Down, and Green. Lighting the environment creates the atmosphere, which is crucial in portraying a feeling of foreboding. Lighting architectural pieces from above allows for deep shadows to form, while lighting from below creates a burst of color across the piece, while the rest dissolves into darkness. Mixing low ambient light-fxtures with washes of color from unseen sources results in a conflict for the eyes, establishing confusion and uneasiness for the viewer.


Smoke and Mirrors. Also, a plate of glass. Utilizing an illusion that has been in use for over a century, an ambivalent figure appears to materialize and vanish at will, leaving the object it holds hovering mid-air. The viewer looks right though the mechanism that makes this apparition possible, due to its concealment in the architecture and finishing of the space in which it resides. The hallway that seems to stretch into the darkness is made possible by low-lighting, and reflective surfaces.


The Fleeting Truth The inherent problem with spaces such as this, is that once the inhabitant steps outside the intended point of view, the atmosphere radically shifts. The construction of the environment and techniques used to create the phenomena are exposed, shattering the illusion that has been so expertly crafted. There is a reason why one is confined to the inside of a moving vehicle. Perhaps this is why these spaces only exist as fleeting moments; the everyday world can not sustain particular environments that dramatically change a person’s perception. The appeal of such environments come partially from the reality that one can not stay there in perpetuity. They will always be a visitor, never a resident. This temporary architecture allows for strong emotional responses to take place in its confines, but the journey always ends the same. The spectator must disembark to their own reality, with the hopes to return someday.


Small Ideas  

Possible solutions to a few of life's problems. Also just pure randomness in here.