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Laura Martin | Portfolio

Design-Build Expandable Desk “The Hole in the Do-nut�

Urban Design & Planning Studio

Chinati Facility for Conservation

OJ Baker Competition: Honorable Mention

Nuuk Fish Market

Polar Climate Strategy

GLOWbal Brick

Acme Brick Competition: Third Place


Naef Wooden Toy Competition



Museum of Expressive Movement

The function chosen for my particular project was a Museum of Expressive Movement, where all research conducted is on display. The building would house research facilities, exhibits, and performance spaces in order to study movement that expresses physical, mental and spiritual states. The movements studied in particular would be ballet, yoga, and body language. The museum informs the visitors of the history, dynamics, and ways of perceiving these states. Because of the nature of the museum and its research, it was imperative for the feeling of public access and privacy to coexist within spaces. There was much consideration for how the research participants could achieve a sense of privacy within a public space. The way in which visitors view into the spaces was the main solution for how a space could feel private to the occupier yet accessible to the viewer.


The exhibits also invite the visitor to perceive movements in a variety of unconventional ways. Sometimes he or she views the performers from above or below. Other times there is the absence of sight, sound, or even detail. For instance, from the exterior wall of the building, passersby can only see the basic silhouetted movement of the performers through a Litracon wall.

Museum of Expressive Movement Fall

This student project called for an Institute of Movement Studies, an international research center for the study of performance and body techniques located in a sunken parking lot. The overall program of the building and focus of movement was left up to the students’ discretion.

Sight without Hearing [Ink+Charcoal+Photoshop]

Section through the Performance space, glass wall of the Library, and Practice spaces.

Hearing without Sight [Ink+Charcoal+Photoshop]

Section through practice space and hallway.

Above: Second Floor Plan Below: First Floor Plan


Right: Structural Drawing [Ink]

Model Images The structure fuses itself into the site, originally a sunken parking lot in Alexandria, VA.

Process Diagrams Exploring how to occupy space created by angular form and negotiating the public exhibition of a seemingly private space .

Another valuable asset taught during the course was how to adapt a design during the construction process, when mistakes in design strategy or assembly occur. I also learned a myriad of valuable wood shop skills such as using the CNC router, at least 6 different types of saws, wood properties and joinery, and finishing techniques. I fully conceived, constructed, and finished this desk made of FSC certified Louisiana White Ash.

Design-Build Expandable Desk

This expandable desk was conceived in a Product-Making class at the Washington-Alexandria Architecture Consortium. The class was based off of the assumption that one must make in order to know. Its goal was for students to explore design through actual production of a product. The process of making helped us discover how to design while adhering to a particular material’s properties and exploring joinery and detail.

Spring 2012


Joinery The desk’s design originated from my fascination with a single joint: the dovetail. From there, the table’s form and function was conceived. The goal was for the joinery to be expressed and celebrated. A. Butterfly tails were cut by using a table saw angled at 14 degrees. B. A band saw is used to cut the leg tenons. C. A CNC router was used to cut the dovetail grooves and mortise.



Expansion The work desk at rest and expanded using dovetail rails.

Urban Design and Planning Studio

Spring 2012

My team’s urban strategy was comprised of three main goals: to establish the area’s identity, to increase connectivity within and to the site, and to promote a sense of community within the Westside. We proposed utilizing the healthy surrounding areas and expanding upon these existing successes in order to create new identifiable districts within our area. In order to link these districts, we established two streets, Howard and Lexington, to become the main axes of the area. To further filter circulation from the axes and into the site, we also established secondary circulation paths through existing and created back alleyways. Lastly, we focused on interventions that would promote community gathering, interaction, and education and are set along the main axes to serve as anchor points in the area.

The Hole in the Do-nut

Downtown Baltimore, Maryland is surrounded by the central business district, the vibrant Inner Harbor, the University of Maryland, and many residential districts. The Westside of downtown, though surrounded by this healthy urban tissue, has become largely vacant and dilapidated. This area has been dubbed the “hole in the donut” of Baltimore. My studio was split in to two groups of six and given the task to design a strategy to revitalize the Westside. My team spent time thoroughly analyzing the site and its surrounding areas and designed a master plan. After the comprehensive plan was fully agreed upon, the team then assigned each member an architectural or landscape intervention. These interventions acted as catalysts for the implementation of our master plan.


IDENTITY: Existing Districts

IDENTITY: Proposed Districts


CONNECTIVITY: Secondary Axes

COMMUNITY: Interventions

Group Strategy Diagrams [Autocad+ Illustrator]

Individual Intervention Development Plan The existing figure-ground shows a large amount of surface parking, essentially deadening the area. The plan suggests pushing the parking towards the interior of the blocks, creating a greater sense of density. This sense will make the area more walkable and emphasize the proposed park. Structure Establish a performing arts center that will help develop the area, reusing vacant buildings, such as the Mayfeld Theater, and building upon empty lots to rehabilitate the northern part of Westside. This district is an expansion of the existing Arts district north of the site. Performing arts event spaces Public services, pertaining to the performing arts Public services, other [Rhinoceros+Autocad+ Photoshop]




Plan 1 Diagram A-Ticketing and Information B- Blackbox Theater


E-Atrium D-Performance Hall: Large E-Performance Hall: Small




F- Restaurant, Lounge, Refreshments,Restrooms G- Kitchen

H-Green Room, Dressing, Lockers, Retail I-Music & Film Library, Classrooms, Private Lessons, Apartments Entry

[Rhinoceros+ Photoshop]

OJ Baker Competition Honorable Mention

Donald Judd’s method of design incorporates the importance of space and the significance of an object’s relationship to its surroundings. It could be said that his work is very much architectural. The fundamentals of his design are frequently utilized in buildings. Judd even began to use his design to renovate existing buildings in Marfa. Unfortunately, Judd limited his inventiveness to only building renovation, never building conception. It is only fitting that Judd’s design quality be carried through completely in a building in the middle of his Marfa masterpiece.

Chinati Facility for Conservation

Spatial Diagrams

Fall 2010

The design of the Marfa, Texas Chinati Facility for Conservation was inspired by the unique environment in which it is situated. This facility is one of a kind: the first building designed for the Chinati Foundation without the artist and founder Donald Judd’s personal involvement. The Foundation has a very distinctive atmosphere and point of view that should not be ignored. The conservation building acknowledges and complements this celebrated style of Donald Judd. The design drivers of the structure were based on my favorite aspects of Judd’s work. Judd’s emphasis on the void and the fantastic interaction between his anorganic work and its contrastingly natural environment is striking to me and inspired this facility’s conception.

Works of Donald Judd

[Autocad+Illustrator+ Photoshop]

[Sketchup+Autocad+ Photoshop]

Sketchup+Vray+ Photoshop]

Inspired by the documentary “The Cove,” this studio project was assigned to negotiate the tension between a functional fish market and a public statement of the injustices carried out in the fishing industry. The fish market’s design, located in Nuuk, Greenland, is inspired the public’s ignorance of these injustices and the building’s move towards enlightenment. Progression

Yet, as one moves through the building, the monolithic structure is torn apart and knocked off axis. During this moment, the visitor is first introduced to “The Cove.” Just as the structural timber breaks down the solid concrete, “The Cove” threatens to break apart society’s comfortable and solid idea of fishing. This new structure grows out of the remains of the former and creates a new space that travels along a new path, both vertically and horizontally. Once the visitor reaches the end of the new space, she realizes that she is no longer on the ground, but above it. This is the moment of her enlightenment to the realities of fishing. The building is about giving people the knowledge that they would otherwise not have gained, and through experiences in the fish market, bring about a stronger awareness of how dolphins, as well as other marine animals, are handled.

Nuuk Fish Market Spring 2011

The entry space of the market is dense and sturdy, inspired by the surrounding structures that are common to Nuuk, and represent the preconceived notion of what fishing means to man. Most are comfortable with the notion of fishing and never question its practice.




1 Seller's Hall



Gift Shop Freezer Freezer Freezer Freezer Freezer Viewing area Freezer Freezer

Loading Area Electrical

Above: Second Floor Plan


Frozen Trash




INVERSION/ POLAR CLIMATE STRATEGY INSULATION: Reduce heat loss & protect against cold Application •Use of Solarcrete-a high-mass concrete with good insulating capacity, to maximize solar radiation and minimize winds. • Earth berming BUILDING MASS: HIGH SOLID TO VOID RATIO Application •Use of form as thermal mass •Thermal bridges: building frame can act as a thermal bridge, particularly in cold climates, conducting heat and allowing it to bypass otherwise effective insulation. LOW SURFACE AREA TO VOLUME RATIO : Application: •A building that is compact, cubic in nature minimizes external surface area.

Solarcrete Concrete Wall Panel R-Value:

Insulated Floor Plate


Above: Collage Study of the Nuuk Coastline [Photoshop]

Below: Second Floor Walk Above Glass-Topped Freezers [Sketchup+Vray+Photoshop ]

Naef Toy Design Competition

Naef Spiele AG, a high quality wood toy company, hosted an 8 week toy design competition open to the students of Virginia Tech and Washington-Alexandria Architecture Consortium. The toy was required to be made of--but not restricted to—wood and not exceed 30cm x 25cm x 15cm. Ortho is a combination of puzzle and block. Drawing from orthogonal geometry, the pieces can slide into each other to create a solid mass or fit together in various combinations to shape and define space. The user is able to express space or generate form, while exploring and manipulating the solid to void ratio of the toy.

ORTHO Spring 2012

Acme Brick Competition: 3rd Place

The Acme Brick competition challenged students to rethink the traditional brick’s uses and composition. The Euplectella Aspergillum has luminous and structural properties that, if imitated, could give the solution to electro-less light and a formula for producing remarkable structural strength with delicate materials. The biomimetic application of the Euplectella’s characteristics could lead to a GLOWbal brick: a material giving all of the world access to clean light sources, safe structures, and a whole new realm of exciting possibilities for brick

Above: Implementation of Brick [Photoshop]

Below: Hand-Made Brick Sample

ORGANIC STRUCTURAL PROPERTIES The Euplectella’s skeletal composition also has exceptionally resilient compressive, tensile, and torsional characteristics that could greatly benefit the brick in these modern times. The framework, constructed of 7 hierarchically arranged levels, is the real secret to the Euplectella’s mechanical rigidity and stability. The brick could be used once again as a main structural component of buildings, instead of simply an aesthetic veneer. This reinforcing latticework could even break the material free from its limited structural composition and present the brick with a new realm of structural possibilities that it has never before been capable of.

Acme Brick Competition Spring 2011

BIOMIMETIC FIBER OPTIC S The Euplectella has properties remarkably similar to that of fiber optic cables. However, the Euplectella fiber, unlike fiber optics, is created in low temperatures which not only eliminates the use of high energy in the manufacturing process but it also gives the structure better fracture resistance, a main failure of commercial fiber optics. Additionally, the lens of the sponge’s spicule greatly increases its light-collecting capability. The Euplectella is able to keep itself constantly glowing even when very little ambient light is present.

Photography 2010-2012

Movement [photo assemblage], 2011

African Township, 2010 LSU Study Abroad Photo Competition: 2nd Place

Cascade, 2010

Laura Martin Portfolio  
Laura Martin Portfolio  

Undergraduate Architectural Work