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Undergraduate Portfolio Matthew D. Cronin

Undergraduate Work

Table of Contents

Project Title

University of Illinois Urbana - Champaign

Page Numbers

Glass House


Memory Lane

8 - 11


12 - 15


16 - 23

Beyond the Cover

24 - 29

Belly of the Beast

30 - 35

The Museum of Ancient Life

36 - 43

Miscellaneous Drawings

44 - 47

Fall 2009 - Fall 2012


Glass House

House to Street


This was the first design project of my undergraduate education. This project introduced me to the design process through a structured four week work period. My task was to create a single housing unit that related to a 10’ x 10’ tartan grid on a sloping site. This project required me to use a specific set of standardized proportions, building components, and materials. It incorporated various modeling and drawing techniques, as well as previously taught design principles and concepts. I was required to express ideas and work in a sympathetic and rational matter with the buildings structural frame which had been set forth by the tartan grid. Having a sloped site required me to address the relationship of my building to the site. Program included a double height living space, cooking area, dining area, fireplace, study area, sleeping area, shower room, and a patio.

Spring 2011 Professor Allison Warren 4 Weeks


Lower Level (Above) Upper Level (Right)


For this project I aimed to create a building that embraced the 10 x 10 tartan grid which was the original starting point. The tartan grid remains evident in my design through wood columns. The spaces themselves work around the tartan grid by occupying full 10 x 10 spaces, or pushing and pulling to occupy more or less area. The extensive use of glass in this building allows for the grid to further express its importance. Since the house was to be built for a couple, using glass had little impact on the privacy of the home. By elevating the front entrance off of the sidewalk level, an extra layer of privacy was created.



Memory Lane

Ceremonial Pavilion

Champaign, IL

The goal of this project was to locate a pavilion and ceremonial space near the Japan House, in the developing Arboretum at the University of Illinois. I was asked to envision a space intended as support space for on-site ceremonies which would contain simple amenities such as accessible bathrooms, dressing rooms, equipment storage, and a space for the ceremony and guests. I was required to analyze and interpret the site, climate, social and cultural life of the area, and topography. Location within the arboretum was left up to each student, however we were required to pay careful attention to the arboretum master plan.

Fall 2011 Professor Jeff Poss 4 Weeks



I aimed to create a structure that would serve as both a walkway and ceremonial pavilion. This would allow the pavilion to be used throughout the year and not just when weddings were occurring. I took advantage of a slope near my site to create an area that would allow for the tiered seating of wedding guests. This also allowed me to utilize the lake as a backdrop, as seen in the image to the left. Memory Lane can be used as both a ceremonial pavilion, and as a walkway that couples can return to for years to come.




Research Retreat

Danville, IL

For this four week project I was asked to design a residential facility for a team of two scientific scholars. One of the scholars has a permanent appointment at the University, while the second scholar is a visiting research assistant. The structure would be occupied during the weeks when the team is in residence at the park conducting research. The focus of their research is the study of the park’s ecosystem, with a particular focus on the relationship of habitat to animal population and diversity. I was required to address the relationship between the building, the natural landscape, and local climate, as well as human interaction in a shared live/work facility.

Fall 2011 Professor Jeff Poss 4 Weeks



I worked to create a structure which fully submerges its visitors into the landscape of Kickapoo State Park. Through the use of a structural glass system, as well as a glass floor on the lowest level, Windixie is the perfect research retreat. The extensive use of glass allows researchers to observe the natural environment from within the building, as well as causing minimal disruption to the views throughout the park. Windixie also allows views into the hillside, and beneath the water of the lake for research purposes.





Moab, UT

Partner - Emily Gruendel This was the final project of my Architecture and the Landscape course. Given eight weeks, my partner and I were required to develop a hotel and refueling station along a stretch of the National Highway System. Sites for this project were spread across the entire highway system of the United States. Each pair was assigned a different city across the nation, and given the freedom to choose their location along the highway within the city. There were several design considerations for this project including access from the highway, how to tie the design to the natural environment and ecology, relationships between public and private spaces, how to organize spaces within the building envelope, environmental factors, and structure and material choice. For this partner project, I was required to assist with the building of both physical and digital models. I created files for our small scale model, and helped with the development of the larger scale model. My main responsibility for this project was the building envelope, and its relation to the surrounding environment. The curtain wall was developed through the repetition of five patterned blocks which used various patterns of mullions. I was also responsible for all renderings, interior and exterior, as well as the design of the restaurant.

Fall 2011 Professor Jeff Poss 8 Weeks


US Route 191



Curtain Wall Blocks



Floor 27

Floor 26

Floor 25


Floor 24 Sleep Box (Above)

Intended for short stays and smaller groups

Hotel Suite (Left)

Intended for longer stays and larger groups

We aimed to create a building that involved both the landscape, surrounding city, and existing tourism on the site, in addition to the highway. Tavaci becomes a gateway to the city of Moab, as well as a representation of Arches National Park to which its upper floors exit. The extensive use of a large curtain wall creates majestic views out of Tavaci and allows the surrounding natural elements to reflect on the exterior of the building. Parking was moved into the thinner vertical sections of the structure to assist with the ecological effects a large hardscape would have on the site.



Beyond the Cover

Urban Infill

Chicago, IL

This was the first project of my Architecture and the City course. For this project I was asked to design a new infill building to be located on a site on the near south side of Chicago. The building was to include two condominium units. During this project we were encouraged to engage in Chicago’s tradition of architectural innovation, as well as analyze contextual conditions, understand experiential needs of urban living, and rethink design using current technology and new materials. I was required to address the challenges of egress stairs, as well as access to daylight and operable windows for all living room spaces and bedrooms. My approach involved maintaining the historic streetface of the block, while creating a building that demonstrated newer technology.

Spring 2012 Professor Allison Newmeyer 4 Weeks


This project began with an abstract study of the bed. Through placing a miniature bed in various locations, we were forced to view the bed differently. Changes in scale, patterns, texture, and even lighting resulted in very different images of the bed. We were then asked to alter the images we had captured to portray the important elements of the bed’s surroundings. This was done through highlighting shapes, exaggerating patterns, following simple contours, or creating a different shape for the surrounding environment. By viewing the bed differently, we began to rethink the idea of a bedroom.


Cabinet for One Cabinet for Two

We then began to explore the idea of a cabinet. The cabinet would essentially be a one room space that contained a bed, closet, desk, and other spaces that we each deemed necessary. One cabinet was designed for a single person, the other for a couple. My cabinets involved interlocking exteriors with a rectangular interior space. These cabinets became the basis of our urban infill designs.


Cabinet Deployment


When developing my design for the Urban Infill, I was asked to keep my cabinets in mind. Beyond the Cover is based off of the relationship between the exterior cover and interior spaces which was present in my cabinets. However instead of creating a square interior space with a complex exterior, Beyond the Cover took the opposite approach. From the exterior this building appears to be a simple box, however as the floor plans demonstrate there is much more to it. After entering into each unit, there are several different boxes inside. It is not until a visitor explores these boxes that they discover the splash of color, texture, and material that is present in each. Beyond the Cover relies on the exploration of the visitor through the building to help tell its story.



Belly of the Beast

Mixed Use Building

Chicago, IL

This was my first long term design project. The structure I was to create was a mixed use building, and the site for this project was the prominent corner of LaSalle Boulevard and Chicago Avenue in downtown Chicago. It was up to students whether their building would be a mid or high rise based on how they interpreted the program, location, and market of the area. The street level was intended to be rental space for a variety of retail or restaurant functions, as the architect does not determine who will rent the space. Stores on this level were required to have access to the alley, and have minimal column interference. The second part of the building program included several types of residential units. I was asked to design three, two, and one bedroom apartments, as well as some studio apartments. In addition to the residences there were several supporting spaces such as a lobby, mail room, elevators, and fire stairs. Students were encouraged to include as many units as possible based on the size of the building, and the layout of apartments.

Spring 2012 Professor Allison Newmeyer 10 Weeks


This project began with a study of mass. After creating several massing models, we were asked to explore shape and pattern. My pattern was a simple repeated square unit which was directly related to the massing. Throughout my studies of massing and pattern I was faced with many challenges, including developing a system that would allow me to design in a modular form both inside and outside of the building.


The square module I had developed in my massing model continued to be represented in both the plans and sections of my building. I started with plans that pushed and pulled units which fit into the grid. However this presented many challenges, especially for those units at the ends of the hallway, as well as extremely large corridors. In section the building allowed the grid to change between squares and rectangles, creating double and single height spaces respectively.


Interior Facade

West Facade

Second Floor Plan Split Floor Plan


South Elevation

Half Floor Plan Full Floor Plan

The development of the module resulted in plans and elevations which communicate the 20’ x 20’ grid the module fits within. Belly of the Beast is based off four basic floor plans which are repeated through the various levels. Each unit type has a unique facade material, which fully wraps the unit from interior to exterior, resulting in overlapping materials where units meet. These facades allow visitors to understand how many bedrooms a unit contains without entering them. With aging, the facades will develop a sense of individuality based on their upkeep.



The Museum of Ancient Life

Museum of Ancient Life

Champaign, IL

This final project of my undergraduate education was the capstone project. Throughout this project much of the information I had learned during my undergraduate education was combined and tested. I was asked to design a small-scale public building emphasizing the integration of the basic elements of building materials, details, structure, technology, program, life safety, and universal design. The location of the site was the intersection of Neil Street and Washington Street in Champaign, IL and contained a 30� slope. Programming of the building included a main exhibition space to hold a T-Rex, as well as several support spaces. During the course of this project I addressed building codes, structural systems, appropriate response to site and context, program comprehensiveness and development, and details indicating building assemblies.

Fall 2012 Professor Kevin Hinders 14 Weeks






















Spider Glass Bracket (Detail Below)

1” Thick Glass Panels

2” Steel Mullion

2’ Air Gap for Insulation

3/4” Thick Glass Panels

Grated Steel Stairs

Concrete Slab on Steel Decking

3” Aluminum Channel

Wide Flange Steel Beam 5/8” Gypsum Wall Board on Metal Studs

Scale 1” = 1’


The goal of this project was to create a structure that attracted attention and required further exploration. In making a double skinned glass facade, the Museum of Ancient Life, allowed visitors to see into the building while prohibiting their views of the spaces. The ramp allows the main exhibition spaces to become extremely thin and transparent, drawing visitors through the building. The Museum of Ancient Life draws viewers in and revives the importance of this historic intersection.



Miscellaneous Works

Various Projects and Drawings

Up to and including Fall 2012



This sample of miscellaneous drawings includes works from the fall of 2009 to the present. Several of the drawings were done by hand, and many with the use of a computer. These samples range from architectural drawings to samples of advertisements, as well as t-shirts I have designed. All of the computer developed graphics were created using a different program, or set of programs.


Undergraduate Portfolio  

A collection of my undergraduate work.