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jessica pfeffer

WORKS thesis

humannature. the design of dialogue thesis project: researc h . c r i t i c : j a n e w o l ff . s a i n t l o u i s . 2 00 7 .

The Saint Louis metropolitan landscape, sited at the confluence of the US’s two largest rivers has everything to do with the natural feature upon which it was founded. The rivers once had an important significance within the city, however, the metropolitan area today does little to respect the rivers’ power. Through the building of levees, Saint Louis Co. has urbanized more floodplain land then any other county nation-wide. The levees present a false security in that they claim to maintain dry grounds. As a city we buy into their false safety thinking that through the levees, we can control the rivers’ wrath. However, every once in a while the river defies the levee’s artificial boundaries and humankind is reminded of the power nature exudes.

Mississippi + Missouri River Confluence: 1992

The river was once wild, but we all wanted a piece of it. In a metropolitan landscape where outward urban growth is eminent; nostalgia drove the urban inhabitants closer to it, industry occupied it, and somewhere in between, the once dynamic river turned static. We desire to be close to the river; we want to touch it. Can architecture be with the river, without being against it?

upper missouri river, mt

Site Analysis: existing flood condition + levee protection

gavins point dam, sd

lower missouri river, mo

The “Mighty Mo” stretches over 2,341

miles with a basin of 540,000 square miles. channelized or impounded. The river channel today occupies 70,026 acres- less then 1/3 of its original. 35% of the river

remains wild- 65%

Mississippi + Missouri River Confluence: 1993


urbanized landscape



humannature. the design of dialogue thesis project: research. critic: jane wolff. saint louis. 2007.

river landscape human movement


Site Plan: flood management system

440’ flood stage 1 hold 1 water movement cut: water retain


442’ flood stage 2 hold 2

fill: dry land

in:creek drainage

444’ “moderate flood” hold 3

out: flood water

existing conditions

Designed Flood Stages



448’ “major flood” release 1

448’ “major flood” release 2

448’ “major flood” floodplain maximized


humannature. the design of dialogue thesis project: architecture comprehensive. critic: phil holden. saint louis. 2007.

Existing in the river’s contested grounds requires a design approach rooted in an interdisciplinary process where architecture is a product of the site context it finds itself in, and site is conceived through the landscape it lies within. By using an interdisciplinary approach, it is possible to conceive of an architecture that does not restrain the river, but embraces it. In order to achieve this, the design concept must be rooted in the design of the landscape keeping in mind its relation to the city. With design, the landscape of the river can be mediated and used for a multitude of functions. Water, riparian forest, wildlife habitat, agriculture, recreation and architecture can coexist through management of the river- giving it the room to expand when needed, but doing so with an infrastructure that allows the expansion to be segmented with time. The goal is to find a methodology for design the merges the patterns of human inhabitation with the patterns of the river. Architecture can then be conceived of at the dynamic intersection of these patterns- using its conditions to guide it function and form.






Perspective: cafe gathering space

thesis project: architecture comprehensive. critic: phil holden. saint louis. 2007.

Perspective: entry swale Perspective: cafe


humannature. the design of dialogue


2008 ASLA NATIONAL e x c e l l e n c e i n p l a n n i n g a w a r d

viet village cooperative urban farm project spackman mossop + m i c h a e l s . n e w o r l e a n s . 2 0 0 8 - o n g o i ng .

The Viet Village Urban Farm project represents an effort to reestablish the tradition of local farming in this community after Katrina. In response devastation from the storm, the community has organized around the idea of creating an urban farm and market as the center of the community. The farm, located on 28-acres in the heart of the community, will be a combination of small-plot gardening for family consumption, larger commercial plots focused on providing food for local restaurants and grocery stores in New Orleans, and a livestock area. The site has significant water and issues, due to its essentially flat characteristic and high water table. It frequently floods during storm events. The water infrastructure for the site is designed to be accessed at many points for irrigation, then to drain back to a central location through a series of bio-swales to aid in water cleansing. Additionally, the project has a complex array of funding and labor resources that it must coordinate to complete the project. The design strategy was based on the idea that the site must be developed as a series of fully functional sub-projects that could be funded incrementally, yet come together to create a comprehensive system to deal with the programmatic and water/soil issues.

Site Aerial: The farm is situated between Lake Pontchartrain wetlands (seperated by a levee at the rear of the site) + residential community in East New Orleans.

Water phasing diagrams

2008 ASLA NATIONAL Excellence in Planning Award

spackman mossop + michaels. new orleans. 2008-ongoing.


viet village cooperative urban farm project

Site Perspective: community boardwalk

Site Perspective: community farm plots


2009 ASLA NATIONAL E x c e l l e n c e i n P l a n n i n g Aw a r d

couturie forest + scout island strategic plan spackman mossop + m i c h a e l s . n e w o r l e a n s . 2 0 0 8 - o n g o i ng .

Scout Island, 62-acre site located within City Park in the heart of New Orleans, has traditionally been a bird watching and wilderness preserve within the park. Completed 4 years after Hurricane Katrina devastated the forest in 2005, this masterplan focuses on the establishment of a series of resilient infrastructures and highlights the need for re-establishing the ecological systems as well the educational, recreational and cultural systems of a site in the aftermath of a natural disaster. The approach the design team took to the site began with a comprehensive comparison and analysis of the site conditions before and after the storm. Information about the hydrological connections between the water systems on site and their water quality, especially the limiting factor of salinity which increased after the storm, was collected. From this work, along with an analysis of the cultural, operational and educational opportunities provided by the project, a strategic framework for how to approach the park’s renewal was developed: 1. Establish Resilient Infrastructures on the Site 2. Add Complexity and Value to the Site Incrementally 3. Manage the Site as a Dynamic System

2009 ASLA NATIONAL Excellence in Planning Award

spackman mossop + michaels. new orleans. 2008-ongoing.

Site Section: canopy walk Site Perspective: path through hardwood forest

Pathway Section: One of several pathways designed to change respond to ecological conditions and enhance the sensory experience of the visitor.


couturie forest + scout island strategic plan


2009 LOUISIANA APA S p e c i a l C o m m u n i t y I n i t i a t i v e Aw a r d

new orleans center for creative arts masterplan spackman mossop + m i c h a e l s . n e w o r l e a n s . 2 0 0 9 .

As consultants to local architecture firm Eskew, Dumez + Ripple, SM+M contributed to the 100-year Masterplan for the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA). NOCCA, a state-funded institution for teaching fine arts to high school students, is notable for having produced some of the area’s finest musicians. The 100-year Masterplan for NOCCA’s growth looks at how the school can expand into it’s current location within the historic By-Water community of New Orleans, in site-sensitive and sustainable manner while also taking advantage of it’s urban location. NOCCA sits on the Mississippi River, directly next to phase one of New Orleans Riverfront Park. The expansion of the school looks at it’s urban connections as amenities to draw upon which will contribute the education of students attending the school. SM+M contributed to the project by designing the school’s urban connections through engaging and rich outdoor spaces. Additionally, SM+M produced all rendered perspectives and plans.

Site Aerial Perspective + Site Plan: NOCCA sitting adjacent to the New Orleans Riverfront Park

growing home

spackman mossop + michaels. new orleans. 2008-ongoing.

Growing Home, a program started by the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority’s Lot Next Door, was created as a way to incentivize residents to purchase empty lots adjacent to their houses. Post Hurricane Katrina, many neighborhoods are struggling to regain their value due to the many empty lots that still exist in the city. Through Growing Home, residents can receive up to $10,000 off the cost of landscaping improvements made to the lots next door to them. The scope of the work done for this project included the design of three sample gardens to give residents an idea of what they could do in their lots. Also included in the project was the design of a “how to book� giving residents a vocabulary of design elements. The program works to rebuild the city, one lot at a time.


new orleans redevelopment authority:


jericho road park environmental justice through site remediation spackman mossop + m i c h a e l s . n e w o r l e a n s . 2 0 0 8 .

Jericho Road, a community rebuilding organization, took interest in the revitalization of a brownfield site that was the location for a municipal incinerator in 1974. The design of a new park is seen as a key element in the rebuilding of the neighborhood following the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina. Additionally, the implementation of a new park in the site can act as a catalyst for a more far-reaching improvement of public space in the neighborhood. The design proposal includes many phases; from remediation of the contaminated soil, to the design of the park itself. Many techniques would be used to remediate the contamination. Along with the removal of some areas of soil, phyto-remediation would be used for both continued remedation to the site and would also serve as visible sign of change to the site. In terms of the park design, bringing people into the site for gathering and social activity is a main goal of the project. The design addresses these issues by creating a central gathering space that can be used for a variety of activities, from informal recreation to community gatherings. Small markets or a refreshment stand could be located by entrance areas to promote social interaction in the park. Shade is provided in the form of an allee that separates the corner plazas from the central gathering space. A community garden could be included as a means to bring all generations together for programed activities to maintain the garden.

Water phasing diagrams

Top: Existing Site, Bottom: Site during Phyto-remediation

Site as Park

spackman mossop + michaels. new orleans. 2009. Side: Canal as Park Below: Existing Canal

Canal as park before and during a rain event.

The Dwyer Canal Revitalization project examines techniques for integrating stormwater mitigation practices with linear parks and inhabitable open spaces. Rather than treating drainage infrastructure as simply a means to an end, this project demonstrates an opportunity for communities to interact with water in a fundamentally different way. The project addresses two important stormwater issues: stormwater quantity and stormwater quality. While the larger stormwater issues causing flooding in the neighborhood are larger than the Dwyer Canal, the canal itself has been designed to hold more water, and to hold the water at a shallow depth for 24-48 hours before draining away completely. Slowing the runoff of water takes pressure off of the pump at the London Avenue Canal, and while it is a small intervention, if repeated throughout the neighborhood could significantly reduce local flooding problems. The cleansing of the water takes place in conjunction with the slowing of the water. Water is filtered through sand beds and plant roots to remove toxins. As the water slows, more sediment is dropped from the water. Clean water not only benefits the neighborhood, but also helps keep Lake Pontchartrain clean as the water eventually ends up in the lake.






the dwyer canal revitalization project


{eco}williamsburg. reconnecting the urban fabric critic: jonathan marvel + r o b r o g e r s . n e w y o r k c i t y. 2 0 0 7 .

The Williamsburg waterfront, located just across the Williamsburg Bridge from Manhattan, NYC, was once activated by industry resulting in an active economy. Today with much of the industry occupation vacated, what is left of the once active industry are industry scaled holes between a small neighborhood fabric and the large-scaled waterfront. Additionally, with the left-over industrial pollution and an ever-increasing amount of impermeable surfaces where there was once soil, the river is no longer what it once was. This design intervention looks at the possibility of reprogramming the residual spaces, left from vacated industry, as a clean water infrastructure, most prominently urban bio-swales. This infrastructure would, in turn, reconnected the urban fabric back together while also reconnecting Williamsburg back to the river. The design of the river front works to weave connections into the urban fabric, rather then developing only the land parallel to the river. New programing of greenhouses and urban forests would work to re-establishing a new economy for Williamsburg while, also, taking advantage of the new clean water infrastructure.

Before/After Perspective: urban greenhouse infill

infill tree farms

bioswale fingers

critic: jonathan marvel + rob rogers. new york city. 2007. DESIGN LAYERS



Above: Site Plan + Context Plan Williamsburg Bridge, NYC




{eco}williamsburg. reconnecting the urban fabric

critic: paul donnelly. la w e r e n c e , k a n s a s . 2 0 0 6 . The design is inspired by an abstract notion of the speed of movement and with the movement’s reaction with a notion of porosity derived by the building’s program and on the site. Porous spaces (for example the gallery, review spaces, the cafe) were placed within light “bubbles”, while dense spaces (studios and classrooms) filled around the bubbles. Movement in and around the site, an active university campus, dictates were porous spaces occur versus spaces of density. The building design concept was pushed further by incorporating sustainability building systems technologies. Moveable mesh panels located by studio spaces provide individual control of daylight. This feature allows the building’s program and activity within to be expressive on the facade. The “bubbles” are made of polycarbinate panels with operable louvers allowing the building to naturally ventilate.

architecture parti ground floor plan


kansas university: architecture school building

critic: paul donnelly. lawerence, kansas. 2006.








6 5 7 1. mechanical louvers 2- polycarbinet cladding 3- mechanical mesh screens 4- mesh screen track system


5- window glazing 6- concrete structure 7- hvac 8- steel structure





5 3


kansas university: architecture school building


light from above addition to louis kahn’s kimbell art museum

The design of a free-standing addition to Louis Kahn’s Kimbell Art Museum in Forth Worth, TX, posed the challenge of needing to relate to and respect Louis Kahn’s masterpiece, but doing so today’s context and technological advancements in building systems. Of particular importance to the design brief was that the end product have an understanding of the poetics of light from above. The outcome design responded to the massing of the Kimbell by placing most of the addition underground. My work was inspired by using a rhythm in the design of the building systems and structure. Additionally, the materiality of the building’s envelope (semi-translucent fabric panels) allows the structure to be seen on the exterior, but in a way that does not expose the structure to the elements resulting in thermal bridging.

critic: robert mccarter. f t . w o r t h , t e x a s . 2 0 0 7 .







1. main gallery 2. library 3. loading/storage 4. upper bridge gallery 5. auditorium 6. outdoor amphitheater 7. entrance plaza

Site Perspectives. Top: Ando’s Museum of Modern Art + Kimbell Addition, Bottom: Kahn’s Kimbell Art Museum + Kimbell Addition

addition to louis kahn’s kimbell art museum critic: robert mccarter. ft. worth, texas. 2007.


light from above


viet village urban farm model cooper hewitt design triennial exhibit spackman mossop + m i c h a e l s . 2 0 1 0 .

On display at the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum, as a part of the 2010 Design Triennial Exhibit “Why Design Now?”, The Viet Village Urban Farm Model depicts the urban farm design through an abstract collage. The farm plots are represented by magazine cutouts with fresh produce on them. The model is approximately 4’ x 8’.

washington university in stl. urban books seminar. 2007. The Saint Louis metropolitan landscape, located at the confluence of the great Mississippi River and the Missouri River, has everything to do with the human ability to control water. Under the streets lies hidden an often forgotten, network of infrastructure that regulates water with all of its power. On rare occasion, though, when this infrastructure cannot hold nature back, we are reminded of what the metropolitan landscape of Saint Louis would be without it. The 1993 flood in Saint Louis was one of the most devastating in the city’s history, leaving behind vivid memories of just how powerful water can be. This book features the poem, The Dry Salvages, by native Saint Louisian T.S. Eliot. In his poem, Eliot describes the often forgotten power of water and its relationship to humanity. This book was printed in limited edition. The book contains photographs taken from the Saint Louis Post Dispatch.

I do not know much about gods; but I think that the river Is a strong brown god—sullen, untamed. taken from: T.S. Eliot “The Dry Salvages”


hiddenWATERscape. artist book


Architecture_Urban Design_Landscape Architecture Professional Portfolio

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