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“A great building must begin with the unmeasurable, must go through measurable means when it is being designed and in the end must be unmeasurable.�

-Louis Kahn



SEATTLE THERMAL BATH PROFESSOR: Bosuk Hur PARTNERS: Alex Blum & Brett Adams LOCATION: Seattle, Washington

ISSUED: August, 2017 REVIEWED: December, 2017 CSI Competition Award - Finalist H. Kennard Bussard Award - Finalist


The brief for this project was to redefine the boundary between two antithetical programs in the city of Seattle, one of which was required to be a thermal bath. We started the semester by creating a sculpture named “Combustion,” which intersects rigid concrete cubes with burned-out wood chips, which symbolizes an unpredictable process of change. This project forced us to think about how transformative processes could impact, and be impacted by, architecture. For our secondary program, we began to research Seattle itself. We found that Seattle has a rich history of technology and industry and has been constantly transforming the idea of what “industry” is. These industries include timber, mining, ship and aircraft manufacture, and the modern day tech boom. Seattle is also on the cutting edge of green technology and systems. This led us to establish our second program as a series of industrial processes centered on biomass power generation and aquaponics. The biomass would combust methane generated from seaweed farmed off-site, and the aquaponics would be used to grow herbs for the thermal baths. We felt that the baths and factory provided a strong contrast, mirroring the dichotomy of Seattle itself as a city that offers immense recreational opportunities while still being highly productive. However, there are also similarities between the programs, the systematic rituals of bathing mirror the linear processes inherent to industry, and both programs have historically been found in structures based on large, repeating grids. Given our earlier conceptual work and secondary program, it seemed clear that our building needed to explore American industrial elements and styles, for example, the concrete barrel vault and the brick façade. However, like Seattle itself, we sought to challenge the idea of traditional “dirty” industry, as well as the architecture that houses it. As we moved from these concepts to an architectural solution, we worked through our ideas using digital concept images and diagrams. These helped us determine the massing and programming of the building as we moved to plans, sections, elevations, and perspectives. Our project seeks to align the processes of industry and relaxation through a bathing experience that features visual and circulatory connections with the machinery that facilitates that experience.


First Floor

Second Floor

Third Floor





North Elevation

North Section Elevation

South Elevation

South Section Elevation


Aquaponics Ring Bath

Biomass Focused Baths


Herbal Bath

Main Thermal Bath

Biomass Digestion Tanks

Aquaponics Laboratory RENDERS

“Our project seeks to align the processes of industry and relaxation through a bathing experience that features visual and circulatory connections with the machinery that facilitates that experience.�


Interior Auditorium




ISSUED: January, 2017 REVIEWED: May, 2017

Independent Study Design Build Project

PROFESSOR/ADVISOR: Shelby Doyle PARTNER: Tyler Wurr LOCATION: United States of America


Architecture studio is designed to explore the imaginative and innovative ways in which we as designers can shape the world around us. The context is often cities but can be desolate and barren regions of the earth. Sometimes the studio explores the theories of architecture, construction practices, or the sociological impacts new architecture makes on a community. Although these are thought provoking exercises, they only go so far in the three dimensional realm as a tangible project. It was for this reason we decided to invest our time and money in a studio we found both relatable to current issues and historical practices: Nomadic Architecture. Throughout time humans have traveled in order to inhabit different regions of the earth and while this curious sense of adventure fueled the journey the part that often restricted them was the method of travel they utilized in order to carry themselves and their livelihood. Take a step into the 1960s and the resurgence of the modern nomad was seen as a hippie in a Volkswagen van carving their way across the U.S.A. in search of adventure and lifestyle changes. Today the nomad can be a freelance photographer, a wildlife expert, a designer, and even an architect. But what is the vehicle of travel for one who travels often? A van. The van serves as a place to live, a vehicle for transport, and a place to work from. During our study we learned more about how to utilize a small space in unique ways that transform a common van, in our case a 1989 Chevy Van, into a traveling home and studio for work. Throughout our studies it became increasingly clear that the way we are living is not a sustainable practice. If we continue to live in a way that uses too much, we will soon reach a point of no return; we will quite literally cause the destruction of our planet, our home. So we must ask ourselves: “What can we do to change this?�. There are a million right answers to this problem, but the first step is to accept a responsibility to this issue. And so, we ask: Could this idea of living small actually be a viable option for people. Could having less, and using less be the first step of a cultural shift into the idea of sustainable practices? Our wish through this project was not only to question the means in which we live today but to explore something that we had dreamed of doing since our first year in architecture school. I hope that you enjoy our adventure and it sparks the innovative and adventurous part of you to tackle something that no one else around you has and question the status quo.


Population Density Map of the USA

Cost of Living vs. Income Comparison RESEARCH DATA


Working/Eating Position

Laying Position



Fixed Bed Construction

Ceiling Panel Construction

Cost Analysis


Bench Seat Extended

Iowa 1. Ames, Iowa


2. Colorado Springs 3. Garden of the Gods 4. San Isabel National Forest 5. Bishop’s Castle 6. Great Sand Dunes National Park 7. Rio Grande National Forest 8. Mesa Verde National Park


9. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument 10. Zion National Park 11. Dixie National Forest 12. Bryce Canyon National Park


13. Carl Hayden Visitors Center at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (in both Utah and Arizona) 14. Kaibab National Forest 15. Grand Canyon National Park 16. Coconino National Forest 17. Phoenix, AZ 18. Prescott National Forest 19. Tonto National Forest 20. Sitgreaves National Forest 21. Petrified Forest National Park

Path of Travel

Significant Locations Visited

Zion National Park, Utah THE TRIP

Highway in Arizona/New Mexico

Campground Outside of Zion National Park, Utah THE TRIP





ISSUED: August, 2016 REVIEWED: December, 2016

PROFESSOR: Shelby Doyle PARTNER: Tyler Wurr LOCATION: Badlands National Park, South Dakota


Climate change is ever present in the Badlands as the land is eroded from the forces of nature such as wind, water, and ice. We set out with the task of creating a research camp that studies climate change. Our design focuses on creating a sense of community and purpose through analyzing the climate of the badlands on a scientific scale and a personal scale including how the individuals and the structures touch the site. Construction is a practice of adaptation. How can we build something to rest safely in a place where it did not naturally originate? With this question in mind we explored different means of construction in order to identify a method in which we could construct a research camp with a low impact on the natural surroundings.Prefabrication is the answer. With the concept of a roman camp being highly organized we decided to design our buildings on a modular unit. All of the buildings on our site are built with prefabricated pieces made in Rapid City, South Dakota which is just under an hour away but has the materials and means of creating our panels. Upon arrival the foundation is laid out and adjusted to the terrain. After this is completed and leveled to the correct heights the prefabricated pieces are constructed and placed on the foundation system. The grid organizational strategy helps to create and differentiate community spaces from private spaces. A continuous boardwalk made of lumber frames the camp at a single elevation which the inhabitants can use to venture through the shared community areas and work spaces. These shared community spaces include the bathrooms, the kitchen and dining areas, the research facilities, and a promenade which cuts down a central axis. In addition to this exterior boardwalk and central promenade are smaller boardwalks that allow for circulation between the cabins which are organized clusters of four and are set at differing elevations to create privacy between the one person cabins. By raising these platforms which contain the cabins a micro-community is formed. Each micro-community is made up of 4 cabins designed by a simple extrusion of a shape that accommodates the sun angles throughout the year. These cabins are made of wood and through glazing techniques provide a unique aesthetic to each micro-community and the camp as a whole. The cabins are offset to create different focal views of the outside world for the individuals that inhabit them. When offset, the cabins capture a view and create privacy between spaces while still continuing the opportunity for a sense of shared space. Off the back side of the cabin a small porch is formed by extending the extrusion beyond the external wall face. This allows inhabitants to continue their personal experience beyond the walls of their cabin. These micro-communities are raised at different levels to truly define the importance of a separate spatial entity between the micro-communities. The micro-communities tie back into the boardwalks by means of stairs from the platforms they rest on. These boardwalks lead back to the outer grid which has stairs down to the Badland floor allowing for easy access to recreation and research. This prefabricated grid based camp creates not just a platform and means of living, but a community that enhances the way of life and relationships while focusing on the changes of the environment. Can architecture create community in even the most unlivable regions?


Site Plan

Structure Touching the Site


Cabin Massing Forms


Community Space on Living Platform

Site Model with 3D Printed Cabins and Community Buildings

Research Camp Section


CONCRETE MASONRY DESIGN PROFESSOR: Bosuk Hur PARTNER: Joe Hiestand, Peter Fonkert, Josh Cobler LOCATION: Concrete Masonry Design Competition

ISSUED: January, 2016 REVIEWED: February, 2016

1st place for CMU Design Competition of Iowa 4th place for National CMU Design Competition


Set out with the task of creating an innovative and impactful new design for a typical concrete masonry unit our group looked at how we could incorporate vegetation into a material that is often viewed as simple, cold, and not life like. The idea was to bring some color to the wall and allow for growth to happen in what is normally seen as a boundary or a border. Our design had 3 different variations that were able to be cast in one mold which allowed for an efficient means of creating the blocks themselves. The biological aspect of our design set us apart from our peers and we were selected as the first place design across the state of Iowa and placed 4th on the national stage.

The mold had the parameter of being able to have less than a 15% loss of volume for efficiency when pouring. In order to do this our system of producing these blocks was forming only one planter unit per pour with the additional units having a varying style. This allows for more variation with the concrete masonry units and creates five possible faces when making a wall. The differing shapes also allow for uses such as stairs or stepped retaining walls. The mold is equipped with differing thicknesses within it to create the void for the planter and a peg which forms the weep hole for drainage so that when the plants are watered they can drain properly. The blocks are designed to be used with plants that have smaller root systems such chives, oregano, basil, rosemary, clover, and rye-grass. This allows for variation in texture, color, and planting on an already aesthetic wall face.

Curriculum Vitae General Information Born in Des Moines, IA Lives in Ames, IA Tel: (515) 745-3285

Education +2013 - Present Bachelor of Architecture Iowa State University Graduating: May 2018 ​ +2009-2013 Des Moines East High School Graduated: May 2013 ​


​ +May 2017-Present - INVISION Architecture, Intern +Summer 2016 - The Beck Group, Construction Administration Intern +Summer 2015 - The Beck Group, Construction Administration Intern ​


​ +2017 - H. Kennard Bussard Competition Finalist +2017 - Construction Specifications Institute Competition Finalist +2017 - Senior of the Year Award, Greek Community of Iowa State University +2016 - The Fraternity of Alpha Kappa Lambda Clarence E. Brehm Leadership Award +2013 - Construction Industry Round Table/ACE Mentor Program National Design Champion +2013 - Polk County Housing Trust Fund Design Star Champion ​

Software Skills and Strengths ​ +Microsoft Office +Autodesk Revit +Rhinoceros +Google SketchUp +Adobe Illustrator +Adobe Photoshop +Adobe InDesign +Adobe AfterEffects +Adobe Premiere Pro

Joseph Bahnsen Bachelor of Architecture Portfolio  

Within this portfolio you will find three very different studio projects that I created during my time studying architecture at Iowa State U...

Joseph Bahnsen Bachelor of Architecture Portfolio  

Within this portfolio you will find three very different studio projects that I created during my time studying architecture at Iowa State U...