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the alcove

HOMELESS ASSISTANCE CENTER Columbia, South Carolina Jill Rodgers studio G1 | Spring 2011 Clemson University Graduate School of Architecture Primary Advisor | Julie Wilkerson


table of contents

HOMELESS ASSISTANCE CENTER Columbia, South Carolina Jill Rodgers | Spring 2011

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PROJECT INTRODUCTION

overall summary of the design challenge including competition and site introduction

ARCHITECTURE AS ACTIVISM theoretical platform of design study centered on Christopher Alexander and Peter Zumpthor

PROFILE OF A PATRON

demographics of the homeless population, defined user needs, and thoughts from the client

URBAN CONDITIONS

identification of specific program needs within existing urban context and initial conceptual design

SERIES OF THRESHOLDS

patterns of movement within the program and schematic design in the context of the urban site

SCALE SHIFT

mid-term schematic design presentation with first indications of structure and skin

STRUCTURAL EDGE

design development of structural steel and detailed wall sections at key elements

THE ALCOVE CENTER

final design presentation with developed building systems and project renderings

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PROJECT INTRODUCTION The challenge of the project is to develop a Homeless Assistance Center as part of the ACSA/AISC Steel Design Student Competition. The semester began with a Pecha Kucha Presentation entitled Architecture as Activism based on several readings. The project itself began with two weeks of intensive research as a studio as designers teamed up to research the homeless situation as it relates to the project and research the specific sites and the appropriate program for each site, including a site in Greenville, South Carolina, and Columbia, South Carolina. The site chosen for this project is in downtown Columbia at the corner of Hampton Street and Assembly Street, stretching to Main Street. On an individual basis, the project was developed as a concept, through schematic design and design development, with a final focus on structural systems and building systems. The result is a comprehensive project with a combined focus on steel innovation, sustainability, the urban context, and a compassionate architectural response.

INTRODUCTION

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04


ARCHITECTURE AS ACTIVISM

Photo by Peter Bennetts | The Tattoo House by Andrew Maynard

The phrase implies architecture has the ability to change, to transform, and to make different. For the design of a homeless assistance center to be activism, it implies the assistance center has the ability to change, to transform, and to make lives different. The center has a certain power that extends beyond the built environment to the person as an individual or family. Architecture can alter perception and enhance experience. To achieve change, there must be a connection made between the before and after or a meeting of two realms. Often architecture seeks to achieve reconciliation as the end, seeking to reconcile between two realms and attempt at bridging what were previously disconnected worlds, such as the exterior environment and the interior inhabited space. Even within the inhabited space, Christopher Alexander uses the terms to describe the conflicting forces to be reconciled: the simultaneous desire for freedom and enclosure. Therefore, it is necessary to include spaces that are open and provide a collective sense of belonging as well as spaces that are more enclosed and provide necessary privacy. The bridge between those spaces happens in the “alcoves,” as described by Alexander. The design takes on the edges of the spaces, creating smaller bordering spaces, and therefore changing the perception of their disconnection. The edge becomes a visual for the transformation as a space where architecture begins to reconcile.

Photo by Jill Rodgers | Downtown Columbia, South Carolina

In his book, A Place of One’s Own, Michael Polland expands the meaning of two realms to include the here and now or the need for architecture to seek to reconcile between “universal culture” and a “sense of place” in order to bring about change. A homeless assistance center faces the challenge of blending the urban street and an environment of home. ARCHITECTURE AS ACTIVISM

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Often the detailing is a manifestation of the connection between culture and place and simply a way to reconcile between the universal scale and human scale. Christopher Alexander suggests details are a bridge between simple building forms and the human realm of greater complexity and intimacy. The scale change enhances an experience. As architects, our medium is building materials and therefore, materiality is a part of the architecture and place. We have the power to use materials as our palette to relate to experience and bridge the building with the environment it creates. To achieve our goal of change, the materials must act with purpose. They are the means for achieving the end goal. For example, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri by Steven Holl is distinguished by its five glass lenses, where architecture and landscape come together and create an experience for visitors characterized by their individual movement through space and time. The materiality of the lenses provides a luring transparency and allows for light to be

Photo by Roland Halbe | The Nelson-Atkins Museum Expansion

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ARCHITECTURE AS ACTIVISM

gathered, diffused, and refrated at different times. The architect Louis Kahn used to talk about interrogating his materials in order to learn what they “wanted to be” what the distinctive nature of a material suggested should be done with it. Materials become an expression of the building, even telling the meaning and goal the architecture seeks to achieve. What’s most ironic about materiality is the often need to reconcile materiality with the lack of building materials. In contrast to Greg Mortenson’s story in Three Cups of Tea, as designers, we are surrounded by a rich culture, filled with the latest products and supplies. Materials are considered essential to the experience of a place and the poetic way we use materials. However, as Greg found out, even the most basic of materials come with a cost, both for quality and transport. The question is how our medium of materials can be used for change on a project where materiality and value carry vastly different meanings. The importance of materiality only increases.


Regardless of the culture, materials entertain the sense and as Peter Zumpthor describes in his book, Thinking Architecture, they are used in a precise and sensuous way and assume a poetic quality. The challenge is if the architect is able to bridge between the materials and to generate a meaningful situation for them - to enable the poetic quality to connect to the human senses. Zumpthor goes on to explain how the details of the materials express the basic idea, such as separation, belonging, tension, or lightness. When introduced in a new environment, materials have the ability to speak a new idea and create environments of tension or cohesion to pursue a goal. Architecture is often the means of fusion between environments, whether physical or social, or materiality yet the key to architecture as activism is that it is able to connect to the human realm. By creating and transforming experiences, architecture is able to mend, instruct, or relax through its connection to the soul. The connection to the soul is universal as Christopher Alexander has described and for the built environment to link into that realm enables change and transformation. It’s a two way street as Polland used Winston Churchill’s quote that, “First we shape our buildings, and thereafter our buildings shape us.” Its the type of experience that is often undescribable in words. What touches one’s soul may or may not touch another - it’s a personal level of change - individuality. The factor often missing is that architecture depends on what Alexander describes as the “pattern of events which we experience there.” A designer can’t produce a sense of place. A building must take on a life of itself; emotions and beauty appear, and as Zumpthor describes they emerge in their purest forms. He goes on to say that he is “convinced that a good building must be capable of absorbing the traces of human life and thus taking on a specific richness,” similar to the ideas of Pollan as his built his own. The challenge for a homeless assistance center lies well beyond its conceptual design. It lies in how the building is able to raise spirits, to create sensual experiences, and to “absorb the traces of human life” from those looking for a home.

Photo by Jill Rodgers | Indian Campground ARCHITECTURE AS ACTIVISM

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PROFILE OF A PATRON In order to best understand how to assist the homeless and how the architecture will help to achieve change in their life situation, it is important to understand their two realms: the before and the after. The assistance center is the opportunity to achieve the reconciliation between what has happened in the past and what is the hope or plan for the future.

Photo by Jonathan Ferrey | Getty Images

Photo courtesy of Maggie May Ethridge | http://poemsandnovels.blogspot.com

The targeted area includes downtown Columbia, South Carolina, located within Richland County. Of those considered to be homeless, the majority are individuals between the ages of 33-52. However, with the anticipated opening of a new shelter for individuals within a few months, the second largest group of homeless is families, a group that is rapidly increasing. Approximately 27% of the homeless in Columbia are families, 18% consisting of children, and half of the children are younger than 5 years old. The tough economy and rising costs of rent is making it increasingly difficult for a one income family to afford market value rent. There has been a 3.8% increase in the share of families that moved from living in a rental situation to living in a homeless shelter and an increase in over 3,000 new homeless students in the South Carolina school system. A family brings a new complexity to the situation, extending beyond the needs of food, shelter, and clothing. Children need a sense of home, a sense of family, and an opportunity to simply be a child. The need for safety and sense of security increases and the characteristics of warmth and hospitality are added. The current numbers indicate only 15% of homeless children under 5 years of age are enrolled in pre-school and at least 30% of children in foster care could return if their parents had access to housing. Multiple cities in previous studies have reported that families may have to break up in order to be sheltered. A struggle in family dynamics is often a precursor to being homeless. PROFILE OF A PATRON

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DEFINITION OF A HOMELESS FAMILY

Consists of one adult who is either the birth parent or legal guardian of a child or children under age 18.

HOMELESS FAMILIES IN COLUMBIA, SC Female 7 9.6% African American 47.9% Age Under 18 60.6% Age Under 6 30.3% Disabled 42.9% Sheltered 78.7%

44.6%

27.7% 27.7%

Columbia Homeless Assistance 27.7% Provide Shelter for Families 27.7% Provide Shelter for Individuals 44.6% Do not Provide Shelter

FAMILY SHELTERS

3 include on-site emergency facilities 2 include on-site transition facilities

1 shelter provides childcare 2 shelters require employment

CLIENT CONCERNS United Way of the Midlands 1600 homeless families in Richland and Lexington county per night Approximately 50% are on the street 3 times more families need shelter than is currently provided Homeless have different needs and services Currently lack consistent continum from emergency to transition

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PROFILE OF A PATRON


HOMELESS MOTHERS More than half do not have a high school diploma Over 92% have experienced

severe physical and/or sexual abuse drug and alcohol dependence Twice the rate of

CHILDREN UNDER 6 Twice as likely to be sick Twice as likely to be Only 15%

hungry

For those families that do become homeless, only 28% of existing shelters in Columbia provide shelter for families: 3 include emergency facilities and 2 include transitional facilities. Only 1 shelter provides childcare and 2 of the 5 shelters require employment. An unemployed family has little or no place to go. The client reiterated these concerns and it was unanimous that the focus of the homeless assistance center should be families and the number of young children within these families. The family shelter introduces the dynamics and needs of both child and adult as the average family consists of a female with 2-3 children, often under the age of 5. The women are often uneducated, and the children are rarely enrolled in preschool. A significant user need is education for both parties and the necessary task of bridging these two age realms. Medical needs are high as well as the need for each family to have privacy. As Christopher Alexander described, the center will need to provide areas for both freedom and enclosure; certain areas will focus on large communical spaces for all patrons to gather while individual areas for each family should offer a greater sense of privacy and personal space. The purpose of the facility and the user groups also present an early scale issue and the need to provide cohesion between child and adult spaces as well as communal and private spaces. The transition in scale and the edge condition between such spaces will be key architectural elements.

enrolled in preschool

One fifth have emotional problems but less than one third receive treatment

PROFILE OF A PATRON

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URBAN CONDITIONS The site selected for the location of the homeless center is located in downtown Columbia, South Carolina, at the corner of Hampton and Assembly streets. The site is an existing asphalt parking lot located directly across the street from the Main Branch of the public library. Not only does the site present urban conditions of the street grid and large adjacent buildings around 180’ tall, the site is within several blocks of a major hospital, local YMCA athletic facilities, several food banks and soup kitchens, and a city park. The adjacency to the public library is the most important proximity service for homeless patrons due to its extensive career center and library services. Many of the assistance services are already in place and able to be shared within the community.

As the homeless assistance center will share and rely heavily on existing facilities and assets of the surrounding community, it is imperative that the center also provides a component to contribute back into the community. An element such as a retail center or restore enables the public to both donate and purchase items to help fund the shelter as well as provide much needed items to the shelter patrons. The restore acts as both a retail component for the public and the entry threshold for the patrons as they are given the opportunity to either donate or resell their belongings in a consignment type situation or store their items during their stay at the center. Upon departure and graduation from the center’s program, patrons are able to pick up their belongings, collect money from what was sold, and/or purchase items through a voucher system. The restore serves as the major threshold of passage into and out of the center signifying both a visual and experiential edge as well as how to reconcile between two realms: the urban street and the life in the shelter.

AERIAL MAP OF THE EXISTING SITE

URBAN CONDITIONS

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Based on the large number of existing services in the community, the majority of the targeted 75,000-100,000 SF center consists of housing. In order to accommodate around 50 families, it is important to program the shelter into at least three clusters of housing and their associated components. Two larger clusters each provide transitional housing for 15 families with individual one or two bedroom unites. The central cluster provides emergency housing for 20 families in individual compartments or nooks within one large space. Regardless of the length of stay, family units need individualized private space and bathrooms in order to accomodate the variety in families. In addition the housing, the program consists of a signifcant daycare component for the younger children, education space for the adult, a dining facility for the center patrons, a small medical clinic, and administrative offices. The daycare also requires necessary outdoor playspace for the kids and the center as a whole will need outdoor space for the patrons. The building will need to meet both programmatic requirements as well as creating a

PROGRAMMATIC STUDIES + SITE CIRCULATION

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URBAN CONDITIONS

successful urban edge within the city context and a pleasant pedestrian environment on the street. The program must mediate between both the scale of a child and adult as well as the scale of the urban environment and the home. After a series of studies in relation to the urban conditions and street grid, the conceptual scheme proposes the three clusters to sit adjacent to Assembly street with the public entry at one end and the patron entry at the opposite end with a central path of circulation in between. The challenge came with the circulation within the site and the program. While the project will create a significant building within the urban grid, the entry for the patrons is to remain uncelebrated and small in scale in order to provide a secure entry and exit for all patrons. The program must also provide a public front for the restore component. The remaining portion of the site, particularly the portion adjacent to Main Street, will remain undeveloped to be sold at a later date.


SCHEMATIC FLOOR PLANS

URBAN CONDITIONS

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SERIES OF THRESHOLDS

CONCEPTUAL FORM STUDIES

The emphasis on the connection between two realms and the need to bring multiple environments and users continued to place emphasis on the claim: transition of scale and how to mediate the threshold. The transition of scale continues from form to materiality and from users to inhabitable spaces. The center becomes how the user moves through these thresholds and what type of experience they create. Early conceptual studies utilized a central movement corridor on which to center all significant thresholds. The corridor provided a clear path of movement parallel to the vehicular movement with entries at either end, as mentioned in the previous section, for both patrons and the public to engage the center. The three clusters of program were spaced evenly along the corridor and allowed programmatic scale changes. The three story volumes were bridged by smaller program areas along the corridor. One of the last iterations forced a distinction between the light and heavy, as mentiond by Kenneth Frampton in Studies in Tectonic Culture. The program clusters became a heavy material while the movement corridor and circulation was characterized by a light frame, glorifying the structure in its purest form. The multiple types of structure interact to break down the scale of the building and begin to indicate areas for “alcoves,� as described by Alexander, to bridge the larger spaces. Even sections of the housing program were developed into two story communical spaces to develop scale change. The floor plans on the following page indicate schematic program arragnements, circulation patterns, and housing unit configurations.

CONCEPTUAL FORM MODELS

From the beginning, this project presented the moral challenge of developing a large and costly homeless assistance center constructed of steel on valuable property in an urban environment. The three story concept continually looked incomparible in height to surrounding SERIES OF THRESHOLDS

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PRESCHOOL

PRESCHOOL

2

2

PRESCHOOL

PRESCHOOL

PRESCHOOL

2

2

2

OFFICE

OFFICE

2

STORAGE 2

STORAGE 2 OFFICE 2

2

OFFICE

OFFICE

2

BREAK ROOM

BREAK ROOM

2

2

2

OFFICE

OFFICE

2

2

DR OFFICE STORAGE

WAITING AREA

2

NURSERY

912 SF

912 SF

PRESCHOOLPRESCHOOL 2

2

PRESCHOOL

PRESCHOOL

PRESCHOOL

PRESCHOOL

PRESCHOOL

2

2

2

2

2

2

STORAGE

2

EXAM 1

WAITING AREA

NURSERY

912 SF

OFFICE

DR OFFICE STORAGE

2

NURSERY

902 SF

2

BREAK ROOM

DR OFFICE

NURSERY

902 SF

2

OFFICE

2

2

NURSERY

902 SF

OFFICE

2

STORAGE OFFICE 2

OFFICE

NURSERY

2

EXAM 1

EXAM 1

WAITING AREA

2

2

EXAM 2

EXAM 2

EXAM 2

ADULT CLASSROOM 2

ADULT CLASSROOM 2

ADULT CLASSROOM 2

ADULT CLASSROOM

ADULT CLASSROOM

ADULT CLASSROOM

ADULT CLASSROOM

ADULT CLASSROOM

ADULT CLASSROOM

THRIFT STORE STORAGE

THRIFT STORE STORAGE

THRIFT STORE STORAGE

SEATING AREA

SEATING AREA

SEATING AREA

2

2

2

DINING HALL

DINING HALL

DINING HALL

KITCHEN

KITCHEN

KITCHEN

2

2

2

2

2

2

SEATING AREA

SEATING AREA

SEATING AREA

2

2

2

THRIFT STORE

THRIFT STORE

THRIFT STORE

GROUND GROUND GROUND FLOOR FLOOR PLAN FLOOR PLAN 1” = PLAN 16’ 1” = 16’1” = 16’

SCHEMATIC FLOOR PLANS 1” = 96’ GROUND FLOOR PLAN

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SERIES OF THRESHOLDS

FIRST FIRST FLOOR FIRST FLOOR PLAN FLOOR PLAN 1” = PLAN 16’ 1” = 16’1” = 16’

FIRST FLOOR PLAN

SECOND SECOND SECOND FLOOR FLOOR PLAN FLOOR PLAN 1” = PLAN 16’ 1” = 16’1” = 16’

SECOND FLOOR PLAN


structures and any greater floor to floor heights were not necessary for the costs. Further studies investigated the possibility of shifting the conceptual arrangement to a vertical solution and determined that the smaller footprint left more marketable land untouched and better fit into the existing urban context. The key vertical study shown to the left revised the initial circulation corridor into a tower and further emphasized the threshold conditions at the vertical landings. One programmatic cluser remained in place while the other two shifted to the front of the building and to the upper levels of the center. The new concept was able to better adapt to the adjacent properties and pedestrian street condition. The study also first indicated the concept of scale transition through scale breakdown as the typical vertical wall openings to reveal smaller “alcoves� and to break down the scale of both the facade and the interior spaces. CONCEPTUAL VERTICAL SHIFT

ORIGINAL CONCEPTUAL MODEL SERIES OF THRESHOLDS

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SCALE SHIFT The conceptual proposal fully explored the vertical solution and enabled the previous concepts of scale transition and threshold to take flight. The breakdown of the wall allows the facade to open on the lower level for a better retail presence and forces the housing units to breakdown into smaller units and communal spaces to consist of small alcoves. The vertical housing clusters are separated by full cutrain wall elements with an exposed translucent stairwell, fully encapsulating the light and soul coming from within the shelter. As previously mentioned, the earlier clusters reappear as three distinct elements: the base adjacent to Hampton street, the front facade adjacent to Assembly street, and the upper housing units. The base consists primarily of the communal spaces for eduation and dining and a significant daycare space designed for smaller children with direct access to a rooftop outdoor playspace. The ground floor on the base cluster provides staff parking and contains the restore at the street edge. The front cluster is lifted approximately 20’ above street level and contains both adminstrative functions and the emergency housing alcoves. All alcoves are internalized into order to provide privacy for the residents but yet allow light to diffuse over the lower walls. The front facade opens onto an outdoor terrace and garden for the patrons, which lies directly above the base cluster. The front cluster and the rendering on the following page best indicate the earlier tectonic scales of mass, translucency, and exposed frame. Finally, the housing cluster sits above the base cluster and best exemplifies the concept of the wall opening to create reveals and alcoves. Each floor houses approximately 7 families in transitional housing and opens on the back side to 3 two story communal spaces with living room alcoves and case worker offices. The ribbon windows provide ample daylighting while the roof garden helps protect again the water runoff conditions. SCALE SHIFT

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SCALE SHIFT


CONCEPT DIAGRAM

The concept diagram above better indicates the opening and shifting of the wall plane to create the structure and form.

PRODUCED BY AN AUTODESK STUDENT PRODUCT

The building was sited to provide best proximity for the patrons to the public library and in order to be provide access to the Hampton and Main Street pedestrains to the retail component. The proposed center aligns with the existing forms in the urban grid and enabled the site to be further developed or masterplanned in the future. The concept as a whole proposes approximately 85,000 SF in an 11 story building. PRODUCED BY AN AUTODESK STUDENT PRODUCT

SITE PLAN

In addition to the programmatic organization, the concept is still centered around the building movement and patron movement being contained within one vertical tower with the exception of emergency exits. By contrating the movement and thresholds at one point, the threshold conditions become more clearly defined and emphasized while the opportunity opens for the other end of the building to be contrated on the movement of service and emergency uses. The two vertical shafts are connected by continuous bathroom units on the upper floors to provide a means of mechanical distribution from the two main shafts. Air and water are to follow a similiar path of movement as the patron. AERIAL PERSPECTIVE SCALE SHIFT

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PRODUCED BY AN AUTODESK STUDENT PRODUCT


BUILDING MOVEMENT + FLOOR PLANS

-

LEVELS 6-11, TYPICAL

TRANSITIONAL HOUSING

-

-

-

LEVELS 4+5, TYPICAL

CONCENTRATED MOVEMENT + THRESHOLD CHANGE

EMERGENCY HOUSING

The transition in scale and threshold conditions are better indicated in both the floor plans to the left and the overall building section to the right. The top floor plan shows the living room alcoves as well as the change in scale in individual housing units. The building section to the right is the best illustration of the relationship between the three clusters of program. The structure plays an integral role as the program shifts with the building and becomes interactive with the patron. The section also further indicates the relationship of the street edge, the roof terrace and play area, and the central mechanical and HVAC corridors on each floor.

-

PRODUCED BY AN AUTODESK STUDENT PRODUCT LEVELS 2+3, TYPICAL

ADULT + CHILD EDUCATION + DAYCENTER

-

PRODUCED BY AN AUTODESK STUDENT PRODUCT LEVELS 1

RESTORE + COMMUNITY RETAIL COMPONENT

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SCALE SHIFT

-

ODUCED N AUTODESK BY AN PRODUCED STUDENT AUTODESK PRODUCT BYSTUDENT AN AUTODESK PRODUCT STUDENT PRODUCT

PRODUCED BY AN AUTODESK STUDENT PRODUCT


TWO STORY COMMON SPACES FOR TRANSITIONAL HOUSING

OUTDOOR COMMON AREA + COVERED AREA FOR PATRONS

CHILD OUTDOOR PLAY AREA

COMMUNITY + ASSISTANCE CENTER RETAIL COMPONENT

SCALE SHIFT

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STRUCTURAL EDGE While the conceptual design provided many structural insights, the challenge was how the structure was to communicate the concept while answering ethically to the purpose of the homeless assistance center. The structure needed to mimic the transition in scale and the shift of the walls not only in form but in function. The concept consists of an overall structural steel frame with precast hollow core concrete floor planks. The hollow core floor planks provide quick assembly, simultaeously smooth floors and ceilings, and fire rating and accoustical benefits. The steel for the main support of the building is concentrated at the vertical shafts and center of the building while the exposed steel supports the facade.

STRUCTURAL EDGE

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STRUCTURAL STUDY SKETCHES

The steel members and connections were studied through a number of sketches as shown in order to determine the best building system. The conclusion was to use custom steel columns with a combination of fixed and pinned joints to achieve the function and aesthetic of the shift in scale. In order to simply the conceptual design, the curtain wall plane was flattened and move to the internal

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STRUCTURAL EDGE


STEEL MEMBER STUDIES

STRUCTURAL EDGE

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MESH @ CURTAIN WALL

1” = 6”

Mounting application for steel mesh sunscreen shading device

INNER FACADE DETAIL

1” = 6”

Steel point connection detail and insulated metal panel facade. Detail is exposed in communal living spaces on opposite side of building.

MESH CENTRAL SUPPORT

1” = 6”

Mounting application for steel mesh sunscreen shading device

01 30

DETAIL @ CURTAIN WALL

1” = 6”

Exposed structural steel on facade with precast hollow core concrete floor panels to allow faster construction

STRUCTURAL EDGE

02

OUTER FACADE DETAIL

1” = 6”

Steel point connection detail and insulated metal panel facade


side of the steel columns and frame. The conceptual sketch on the previous page indicates how the shift in the curtain wall has been replaced with a steel mesh screen to provide privacy and sunscreening benefits. For the design development phase, three significant wall sections were developed to indicate three different conditions. Wall section 01 take a closer look the typical curtain wall and steel mesh sunscreen device. The steel mesh is mounted on a roller mounting device and the curtain wall is distinctly characterized by the exposed steel members at every level. Wall section 02 occurs at a similar location where the envelope consists of a metal panel facade over custom steel flanges with steel point connections. The roof envelope also consists of a metal panel system. Finally, wall section 03 looks closer at the three ground floors from the building footing to the roof terrace. The roof is designed as a green roof to contain the appropriate system and plans for retaining rainwater.

DETAIL @ ROOF TERRACE

1” = 1’-0”

Level 4 opens onto a green roof & terrace space for residents

FOUNDATION DETAIL

1” = 1’-0”

Insulated panel system and structural steel terminate at concrete footing

03 STRUCTURAL EDGE

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BUILDING SECTION STUDY

During the later part of the design development phase, a numbers of studies and digital models looked at the constructin of the structural systems. The modules were studied at 12’ and 6’, 12’ and 12’, and finally 24’ and 12’. It was observed that the 24’ and 12’ bay spacing for a 36’ module was the most appropriate proportions for the site and the size of the program. The floor system was originally designed as a hollow core concrete panel system to provide greater noise insulation, fire protection, and a faster construction time. However, with the majority of the structure fabricated from

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STRUCTURAL EDGE

structural steel, it became more efficient for the steel trade to use steel metal deck with a concrete topping. Modifications were made in the final design. The final significant issue to resolve during design development was the actual placement of the skin itself on the secondary structural system and where the secondary structural system mounted onto the primary structure system. When the skin was primarily on the exterior of the structure, the structure began lost and the facade read as a blank plane again. Emphasis was shifted on how to enable the skin to weave in and out of the structure


both to reveal the structure on the interior and the exterior of the building. The structure was modified from one vertical member to two vertical members, one a mirror of the other, as the angled structure mirrored itself around the hollow tube members. The result is a greater flexibility in the mounting location of the skin and the ability of the skin to weave through the structure. The result is an elegant urban fabric. DIGITAL FACADE STUDY

STRUCTURAL EDGE

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THE ALCOVE CENTER The final design is appropriately named, The Alcove Center, with the first floor retail space called, The ReStore. Looking back to the beginning of the project, the semester began with the phrase, Architecture as Activism, a phrase that implies architecture has the ability to change and to transform. The concept looks at how architecture can extend beyond the built environment to the inhabitant through enhanced experiences and altered perceptions. To achieve change, there must be a connection made between the before and after and an attempt to reconcile between two realms to bridge what was previously disconnected. For the homeless in Columbia, South Carolina, the families must bridge not only between children and adult and public and private but between the “universal culture” and urban street environment to a “sense of place” and environment of home. Christopher Alexander specifically discusses the simultaneous desire for freedom and enclosure and the bridge between those spaces known as the “alcoves.” As described by Alexander, the design takes on the edges of the spaces and therefore, changes the perception of their disconnection. The design concept focuses on how to mediate between the two realms, between the interior and exterior. The claim is to develop a transition of scale with a structural tectonic and to propose how to mediate the threshold of change change at both the urban and programmatic scale. The focus becomes the scale shift at the urban, programmatic, and tectonic scale as the concept explores the ability for architecture to mediate the urban street environment and the environment of home for the patrons.

THE ALCOVE CENTER

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The concept specifically looks at (1) the urban scale through an examination of the urban fabric and existing conditions; (2) the programmatic scale through patron movement and the establishment of program thresholds; and (3) the tectonic scale through design development and the indication of concept within the building structure.

URBAN SCALE The concept first analyzed the existing urban fabric surrounding the site in downtown Columbia and looked at the size of the surrounding structures and the organization of the city grid. A multitude of building types and scales were identified as well as existing services to assist the homeless population. The map below indicates the location of existing soup kitchens, food pantries, shelters, and other services such as fitness facilities that work with the homeless population in the area. As indicated on the site plan, the concept proposes to occupy a small portion of the site in order to allow the remainder of the site to be utilized for valuable development or sold for its property value. The concept looks at how to take the various scales of the existing buildings in the urban fabric and merge those into one proposed building. The result is a proposed building consisting of three main clusters. The first cluster is oriented adjacent to Hampton Street and responds to the main pedestrian throughfare and pedestrian scale of the urban street condition. The front cluster is oriented adjacent to Assembly Street establishing the street edge and responding to the public

PROGRAM CLUSTER 1

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THE ALCOVE CENTER

PROGRAM CLUSTER 2

ANALYSIS OF EXISTING BUILDING SCALE

EXISTING ASSISTANCE SERVICES + PROPOSED BUILDING LOCATION

library building across the street. The third and final cluster is primarily housing located in the center of the building and corresponding to the height of the existing buildings on the block. While the concept focusing on the inhabitant, it strives to blend into the existing urban fabric and respond to the surrounding urban environment.

PROGRAM CLUSTER 3


PROGRAMMATIC SCALE From a programming standpoint, the concept focused on patron movement and the establishment of thresholds. It was important to continue to mediate between spaces by placing the focus on the threshold condition and creating a straight path of movement for the patron. Earlier proposals looked at a horizontal approach of movement but it was concluded that a vertical approach would be more appropriate for the urban nature of the site. The vertical path of circulation forces the patron to experience a floor change with each change in program, further emphasizing the edge and threshold. It also allows a small, secure point of entry and exit for safety purposes. The first floor is marked by the point of entry for both the public and private realms. The entry to the assistance center is on the corner of the site from a covered plaza and adjacent from the public library. The remainder of the first floor is dedicated to the ReStore, a retail community component. Following along the emphasis of thresholds in the concept, the ReStore acts as the main threshold through which patrons pass through upon entry to the assistance center and upon re-entry into society. It provides a way to sell goods upon entry and an opportunity to receive donated goods through vouchers upon successful completion of the programs within the center. In addition, it provides employment opportunities and training skills for the center patrons, a way to fund the center financially, and a means for the community to donate goods, time, and money to the assistance center.

The retail component provides a way for the community to connect to the patrons of the center and a way for them to connect to the community. It also enhances the urban street condition by providing a retail shop for pedestrians. The unfinished area on the first floor is covered parking provided for the center staff. The second floor is the first of two floors dedicated to educational components. Research indicated that a significant number of children within homeless families do not attend daycare or any form of preschool. The center

BUILDING MOVEMENT

PROGRAMMATIC CONCEPT DIAGRAM THE ALCOVE CENTER

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TRANSITIONAL UNITS One, two, and three bedroom units are provided with flexibility for multiple family types. Units are provided with individual baths to best meet the needs of families.

ROOF TERRACE Green roof structure allows for outdoor patron area in the urban environment

COMMUNITY RESTORE Acting as the main threshold of entry and exit for the patrons, the retail component provides a means of selling personal belongings, a means of receiving donations from the community upon leaving the center, and a means of employment training while living at the center.

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COMMUNITY SPACES

Two story living room spaces are provided for every other floor of the transitional housing floors. Visual connection between floors encourages interaction amongst patrons.

PLAYGROUND The green roof terrace is filled with steel playground equipment and provides an safe, urban outdoor playspace for the preschool and children staying at the center.

STAFF GARAGE Provides 12 spaces for employees


provides a daycare facility for all preschoolers and young children for both their education and the benefit of a parent to enable time for them to earn an income. Each classroom has a private toilet and the center has a roof terrace outdoor play area to reduce the building footprint and enhance safety for the children.

1 2 3 4 5 6

REstore Administration Medical Clinic Adult Education Child Preschool Emergency Housing

2 3

Along with the children, the third floor of the assistance center focuses on meeting the needs and aiding the adult members of the families through a small family medical clinic and classrooms for adult educational programs. While the clinic is not full-service, it does enable the shelter to have a space for visiting physicians, dentists, and for general first aid and minor medical needs. The floor also houses the administration area for the assistance center staff, case workers, and other general center use. The first set of floor plans begin to indicate how the concept provides a flexible interior for a multitude of scales in program spaces and uses.

4

03

The fourth floor is a two story space that can be used as a daycenter within the assistance center. It houses the main resident dining facility and kitchen within a large multi-purpose space with restrooms and smaller alcoves along the edges. The floor opens to the patron roof terrace where the residents are able to walk or sit outside and have an outdoor space within the surrounding urban environment. The space is easily adaptable for use.

5

6

02 1

N VIEW AT ENTRY

16’ 0’

01

64’

32’ THE ALCOVE CENTER

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Within the same floor, the front cluster is the first of two levels for the emergency housing. Each emergency housing floor is an open two story spaces with half wall individual units to house nine families for a total of eighteen families. The plumbing is centralized while each family is provided with a small individual bath to aid the adults in caring for both male and female small children. By providing an open space with a significant amount of natural light, the residents are able to have naturally lit private spaces within the privacy issues of a window within a shelter. For an average stay of six to nine months, the goal of the emergency housing is to provide a private and safe space but still reminding residents of the need to pursue their own housing and future.

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REstore Administration Medical Clinic Adult Education Child Preschool Emergency Housing Dining Transitional Housing

The top six floors, levels five through ten, contain the individual units for transitional housing. Each floor accomodates five families and one case worker for a total of thirty families and six case workers. The levels are designed with housing on one side and a two story communal living space on the other side for ten families to share as a common space. The units are aligned around a central plumbing core to enable all services to run alongside the building structure in the center. The individual units are one to three bedrooms with private baths and arranged to allow for flexibilty for the center depending on family size. The concept also allows for the space to be reprogrammed later for low income housing or private condos to aid the center financially.

8

05-10 6

N INTERIOR COMMUNITY SPACE

7

16’ 0’

04

64’

32’ THE ALCOVE CENTER

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TECTONIC SCALE At design development, as indicated by structural studies shown earlier in this text, the goal was to develop a structure to mediate between the interior and exterior realms while providing private nooks and alcoves within the interior spaces. The concept takes the typical wall place and shifts the two faces as the structure rotates around a central point. The result is a structure that transforms the interior and exterior envelope and creates additional space for habitation. The concept diagram belows illustrates the process. To utilize the quick construction time associated with steel and the ability to use standard materials, the primary structure of the building consists of structural steel beams and columns with a concrete footing foundation and corregated metal deck with poured concrete floors. The standardization of the load bearing members reduces the overall building’s cost and results in an open interior space that will remain adaptable for future uses and retrofits. The secondary structure illustrates the tectonic shift as it defines the edge condition and provides the required supporting structure for the facade. The structure is woven through the interior and exterior space as it provides a variety of options for mounting the building skin.

The skin is composed of three main elements: a curtain wall system, a translucent panel system, and a metal clad architectural insulated panel system. The panel system easily attaches to the secondary system and allows custom off-site fabrication, a shorter construction time, and a greater insulation value. The curtain wall indicates more public programmatic spaces while the panels indicate more private programmatic spaces. From a sustainability standpoint, the concept boasts two green roof spaces: one for the patrons of the emergency and transitional shelters and one for the children in the preschool program. The butterfly roof creates a drain to the greywater system running through the central core of the building. Finally, a series of metal perforated panels are installed over the curtain wall system for both privacy use and protection from solar heat gain from the sun. The concept as a whole is built as a series of six modules. Four modules are standardized, the fifth is slightly modified to include the patron stair well, and the sixth is the front module responding to the library but within the same structural language as the rest of the building. The diagram on the following page indicates a breakdown of the structural systems within the building.

CONCEPT DIAGRAM

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PRIMARY STRUCTURE Structural steel beam and columns Metal floor deck with concrete topping Allows for fast construction Adaptable for future uses

THE ALCOVE CENTER

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SECONDARY STRUCTURE Supports facade elements Woven through the interior and exterior


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BUILDING SKIN Architectural insulated panels Adapts to program elements Curtain wall + Kalwall system

04

SUSTAINABILITY FEATURES Green roof terrace Rainwater harvesting system Sunshade + Privacy THE ALCOVE CENTER

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In order to take a look at the steel structure in detail, two details are highlighted to the right. The first detail looks at the key focal point of the secondary structure: the point at which the structure pivots, or shifts, to create the alcoves. The structure needed to mimic the transition in scale and the shift of walls not only in form but in function. Therefore, the secondary structure consists of custom steel T-shaped members fixed on a round hollow metal section extending along the length of the building. As mentioned earlier, the structural members are mirrored and woven from hollow section to hollow section in order to provide maximum flexibility for cladding. The secondary structure supports the architectural insulated panels and provides support for the perforated steel mesh for sun shading and privacy purposes. The second detail looks at the structure at the foundation and floor slab that utilizes a similar structural language as the first detail. The members are attached at a pinned connection and accentuated for their aesthetics in the individual programmatic spaces. While it is designed to bolt to cast-in-place concrete at the foundation level, a similar steel detail was also utilized at the upper floors and at the roof based on the varying floor-to-floor heights and flexible room sizes.

CONCLUSION The concept resulted in an elegant architectural solution that showcased the beauty of steel and its ability to appeal as an ethical solution. The design draws from the concern for families and the dynamics of the residents to create a dynamic structure that speaks to the inhabitants on the interior through the alcoves and change in scale within the program. Overall, the project merged architectural theory, structural tectonics, and design skills to create a successful proposal.

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THE ALCOVE CENTER

TYPICAL PRIMARY STRUCTURE DETAIL

TYPICAL DETAIL AT FOUNDATION


FINAL MODEL PHOTOGRAPHS THE ALCOVE CENTER

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Studio Manuscript