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selected works


LEAH R SCHAFFER 1200 E Singer Cir. Apt 59 Milwaukee, WI 53212 p | 757.927.5324 e |

E D U CAT ION Fall 2009 - Spring 2014


Fall 2012 - Spring 2013


E X P E R I ENCE Fall 2014 - Present

AGAPE COMMUNITY CENTER | MILWAUKEE, WI | Neighborhood Revitalization VISTA An Americorps VISTA position working on programs of neighborhood development focusing on the Northwest side of Milwaukee. Projects included rebuilding a community garden, home improvement grants, organizing community events, recruiting volunteers, and other community based projects.

Summer 2014 + Summer 2012

ONSITE ARCHITECTURE | BLACKSBURG, VA | Architectural Intern Created a set of survey drawings for a small residence. Completed schematic design drawings and a model for a residential addition. Responsible for making competition boards and press kits for the Masonic Amphitheatre.

2008-2014 Summer 2011

MOE’S SOUTHWEST GRILL | Food Prep/Server FREESET GLOBAL | KOLKATA, INDIA | Volunteer Responsible for organizing financial data. Assisted with tote bag production and worked alongside women who have been given employment and are no longer trapped in Kolkata’s sex trade.

H O NORS Fall 2009 - Spring 2014 2012

Fall 2009

DEANS LIST MASONIC AMPHITHEATRE | 3RD YEAR DESIGN/BUILD PROJECT Building of the Year | ONE Prize | Honorable Mention SEED Award | Honorable Mention AIA Blue Ridge Design Excellence Award AIA Virginia Design Excellence Award Architizer A+ Awards | Popular Vote Winner 1ST YEAR COMPETITION | HONORABLE MENTION

SK ILLS Software Other


Adobe Creative Suite, Auto-CAD, Rhino, Sketch-Up, Microsoft Office, ArchiCAD, CATT Acoustic, ArcGIS Grant-writing, Project Management, Budgeting, Construction, Photography, Hand Drafting, Model Making, Wood-working, Acrylic Painting Available upon request.

ARC H ITECTURAL WO RKS Residential Addition


Thesis Investigation


Masonic Amphitheatre


Museum + Research Center


Dune Crossing


OTH E R WO RKS Community Garden




Travel Sketches




left schematic model right inital programatic diagrams in plan and section



FIRM OnSITE Architecture DURATION 2.5 months / Summer 2014 PROJECT LOCATION Patrick County, Virginia

RESIDENTIAL ADDITION PROFESSION A L WO RK The new addition sits adjacent to the existing house, turned slightly to maximize the views of the surrounding mountains and woods. The bedrooms are carved out from the traditional extruded gabled form, allowing the servant spaces to occupy the remaining masses. The ceiling of the master bedroom follows the exterior roof line opening the space to the distant Blue Ridge Mountains. The kid’s bedroom on the other hand focuses towards the woods and space of future exploration. My role for the project was to create a set of survey drawings for the existing house. I also developed program diagrams, a set of schematic design drawings, and schematic model.

top left axon drawing showing carved out spaces and views middle left elevation of adittion looking towards kid’s bedroom window bottom left model of adittion looking towards master bedroom window top right schematic plan bottom right schematic sections


residential addition

professional work


top left the remaking of a brick from building rubble bottom left clay drawings of early housing designs right series of clay drawings studying traditional housing typologies of Gujarat

STUDIO 5th Year / Advisors Keith + Marie Zawistowski DURATION 2 semesters / Fall 2013-Spring 2014 PROJECT LOCATION Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India

THESIS INVESTIGATION MODERNITY + TRA DI TI ON India seems to be living in multiple eras at once: from the legacies of the past to the hope of the future. Yet it all seems stuck in the realities of the present. The cities that were once rooted in the tradition of craft and place have been taken over by the global ideals of progress. New structures of concrete and glass appear at a rate that is only matched by the ever increasing number of migrant workers willing to work. The Indian city is striving to become modern but along the way has lost the beauty and appropriateness of tradition. The design of a training center for migrant construction workers and transitional housing for them strives to find a balance between traditional building practices and the desire to become a modern country.

The program for the site is divided into two distinct parts, a training center and transitional housing for migrant construction workers. As an institution the training center presents itself to the public street edge. The buildings are set back to allow the center to knit itself into the existing urban street life and provide room for vendors to set up. The housing units are aligned along the quieter street right against the edge. This proximity emphasizes the importance of the otla in the Ahmedabad street scene. Each housing unit provides room for two families. The units are divided into three zones. The two enclosed spaces provide room for sleeping and privacy. The rear porch provides space for cooking and washing clothes, while the front porch (otla) and middle space provide shaded outdoor living areas. The roof is lifted from the walls to allow for cross ventilation and light.


thesis investigation

top left site plan bottom left sketches showing the construction of the site over time top right photo of the site model middle right residential street elevation bottom right plans and sections of the housing units modernity




½” 2’

lime plaster finish 01

cseb english bond wall 02

compressed earth floor stabilized 03 with 5% cement tamped earth 04 rubble backfill 05 brick stepped foundation with 06 cement mortar 6” o.d. drainage pipe 07

01 02 03 04 05 06 07


thesis investigation

The housing units express the beauty of their material. The compressed earth block walls are finished with a clay and lime plaster creating a soft atmosphere in the interior of the space. The wood joinery is designed to minimize the need for fasteners. They are only used in connecting the columns to the steel base plate. On the exterior the brick is left exposed, emphasizing the tectonic form of masonry construction. The pattern of the brick is manipulated to create openings for light and air. At the same time much of the storage and furniture becomes a part of the structure itself.

top left detail section through rear wall of housing unit bottom left axons of wood joinery right axons of exterior brickwork modernity




photo credit: jeff goldberg/esto

STUDIO 3rd Year / Keith + Marie Zawistowski DURATION 10 months / Fall 2011-Summer 2012 PROJECT LOCATION Clifton Forge, Virginia

MASONIC AMPHITHEATRE DESIGN + B U I L D The design/buildLAB is a third year architecture studio at the Virginia Tech, School of Architecture + Design focused on the research, development and implementation of innovative construction methods and architectural designs. The project consists of the complete redevelopment of a post-industrial brownfield into a public park and performance space for the community of Clifton Forge, Virginia. The design process began with site analysis and client interviews to determine an appropriate program for our proposal. The design of the amphitheatre was to include a bandshell, backstage area, seating for 200, a sound control booth, and park while using the existing concrete slab.

Each member of the design/buildLAB made an individual proposal for the site. The 16 schemes were progressively merged together into three concepts. From these three concepts the strongest elements were consolidated to create the final design. My group's proposal incorporated extruded lawn terraces and sunken pathways to connect the site back to downtown Clifton Forge. The terraces helped to divide up the large site not used directly for the performance space and create access down to Smith Creek.


masonic amphitheatre








top left the site along Smith Creek middle left Initial design proposal bottom left Construction sequence axon right Plan and section of the Amphitheatre and Park

Using the existing slab as its stage, the built elements emerge as sculptural forms out of the landscape of the park to create the bandshell. The park is a series of extruded lawns and carved paths that knit the surrounding urban fabric into the site’s circulation. The project includes a stage with acoustic shell, a backstage with loading dock and creek-side terrace, green room and wings, a sound and lighting control booth, and a seating area for 200 with additional overflow seating for 800. The material palate of white oak and steel anchors the project in its context.






masonic amphitheatre

From January to March we completed construction documents for permitting. For this phase of the project each student was given an area of the project to detail and refine. This included drawings and material takeoffs. My focus was on the lighting and sound control booth. Due to the nature of the studio the design had to be prefabricated in Blacksburg while a contractor completed site work simultaneously in Clifton Forge. In May the 10' modules were shipped to Clifton Forge where we worked on site with a contractor to finish the amphitheatre for its grand opening on June 23rd.

left Construction drawings of the lighting and sound control booth right Photos of construction photo credits: jeff goldberg/esto design





masonic amphitheatre

AWARDS Building of the Year / ONE Prize / Honorable Mention SEED Award / Honorable Mention AIA Blue Ridge Design Excellence Award Architizer A + Awards / Popular Vote FEATURED ON Metropolis Magazine Archdaily Inhabitat

photo credits: jeff goldberg/esto design




STUDIO 4th Year Study Abroad / Shubhra Raje DURATION 2 months / Fall 2012 PROJECT LOCATION Hampi, Karnataka, India

MUSEUM + RESEARCH CENTER RECREATIN G PL AC E Brief: In the wake of the recent Hampi bazaar evictions, our studio was located in Hampi amidst the landscape of scattered monuments and granite boulders. As with many monuments in India, ancient ruins coexist with living temples and bazaars attracting tourists, researchers and pilgrims. The prompt called for the design of a museum and research center along with the development of tourist depots. Proposal: Due to the current evictions of the bazaar, Hampi no longer has a true center. The idea behind this project is to create a new center in Hampi through the regeneration of an existing water tank and the building of a cultural center. Programatically the building knits together the varying people groups in Hampi from the researchers, tourists, and locals.




research center

From visiting Hampi it became apparent that in places of intersection with the main road activities tended to occur. The initial exercise for the studio was to design "a wall" along the main road into Hampi. An analysis of activities along each intersection was conducted to determine an appropriate intervention, "a wall", for each place. From studying each intersection the site for the main program of a museum and research center was chosen. This specific intersection was chosen because it serves as the midway point between the three towns in this area, which means increased traffic. The site also contains an abandoned stepwell.

top left Overall site plan of Hampi top right Hampi Bazaar being demolished bottom right Analysis of intersections along the main road in Hampi recreating place





research center

collection of rainwater from roof

natural ďŹ ltration system of brick rubble + sand

collection tank

the main tank and existing ruin

storage tank for water used by the live in researchers ďŹ ltration sytem from the other roof

Traditionally water tanks were seen as a community asset and were maintained by the community. During the dry season the tank was desilted and the silt was spread over the fields. Water tanks were seen as useful year round. After independence the government began controlling maintenance of tanks. Community involvement in maintenance decreased and now the government can no longer afford upkeep so many of the water tanks have deteriorated. The idea here is to regenerate the existing tanks through rain water collection and a series of naturally filtered tanks. The buildings already create a community center and thus provide an opportunity to reinstitute a low cost tradition and reengage the community with the ruins of Hampi in a new way. There are three tanks including the existing one. The water passes through pits of brick rubble followed by sand. The two materials remove any suspended particles and filter out many microorganisms. The collected water from the first tank would be stored underground to be used by the researchers living there.

left Plans and sections of the Museum + Research Center top right Axon of the series of water tanks bottom right Model photos recreating place


top left plan of the dune crossing bottom left rendering of the dune crossing looking down the shoreline top right cross section of the dune crossing at overlook middle + bottom right section model of the dune crossing

STUDIO 3rd Year / Team entry with Taylor Terrill + Ian Shelton DURATION 1 week / Spring 2012 PROJECT LOCATION Seaside, Florida

DUNE CROSSING COM PE TI TI ON Brief: This competition proposes the design of a dune crossover structure that incorporates current photo-voltaic technologies. The project should include an overlook point, restrooms, information board, and cause minimal disturbance to the dunes. Proposal: A series of wooden screens are staggered along the walkway, revealing, and concealing views of the surrounding beach. The screens create their own landscape amongst the changing dunes. For this project my role included design, model making, and CAD drawings.

top left construction drawings of the raised garden beds bottom left community gardeners planting in their newly constructed garden beds top right garden prior to renovation middle right community volunteers helping with construction bottom right gardener testing out the seat ledge

DURATION 2 months / Spring 2015 PROJECT LOCATION Milwaukee, Wisconsin

COMMUNITY GARDEN DESIGN + CONSTRU CTI O N As part of my time as an Amercorps VISTA member at the Agape Community Center I helped to lead the renovation of the Thurston Woods Community Garden. The gardeners approached us in the winter with the desire to create more accessible raised beds. Working with community gardeners I designed beds that were raised to seat height, allowing many of the older gardeners to rest while working. Using grant funding from both Agape and the Neighborhood Improvement Development Corporation through the City of Milwaukee, we constructed the garden beds in time for this years planting season. My role in this project included volunteer management, grant writing, design, and construction.

PHOTOGRAPHY Through photography the power of a place or a moment is captured and shared. Photography is great for studying pattern, texture, repetition, and contrast.

left Dada Harir ni Vav, Ahmedabad, IND top right Traditional Water Jugs, Junagadh, IND middle right Close-up of the Taj Mahal, Agra, IND bottom right Entering the Temple, Hampi, IND



left Cave Temples, Badami, IND top right Navarati Festival, Gujarat, IND middle right Reflections, James River, VA bottom right Pritzker Pavilion, Chicago 35

TRAVEL SKETCHES I N DI A A selection of pen, ink, and water color sketches from traveling around India.

POTTERY INDEPENDEN T STU DY Pottery has become a way to realize a design from ideation to completion at a condensed scale.Techniques of material handling from slab, pinch pots, and coiling were used.

Leah Schaffer_Selected Works  

Selected Works from 2009 to 2014

Leah Schaffer_Selected Works  

Selected Works from 2009 to 2014