ARCHITECTURE & DESIGN PORTFOLIO 2019 MADDI JOHNSON Master of Architecture Carnegie Mellon University 2019 Bachelor of Arts in Architecture University of Pittsburgh 2017
Bloomfield Nexus Center
Passage to the Park
Environmental Charter School
Living in Nature
The Aquaponics Project
Epic Metal Competition
Dispelling the Nature of Illumination
Portable Hydroponic Market
Portable Community Market
Contemporary Fine Arts Installation
Water Retention Case Study
The Language of Representation
Bloomfield Recreation Center
Provocations of the Venice Biennale
I graduated from the University of Pittsburgh Architectural Studies Program in 2017. I will be awarded my Master of Architecture from the Carnegie Mellon University School of Architecture in April 2019. I was born and raised in Pittsburgh. My love of architecture, furniture design, and art was apparent early on as I attended the Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts High School. It was shortly after this that I found my passion, namely, architecture. INTERESTS Sustainability is my primary focus in the process of contextualizing projects. As such, in addition to my core courses, I have completed classes from within the Master of Science in Sustainable Design program to better understand architectural sustainability through cross disciplinary thinking and practice, not to mention the way in which sustainable policy and practice raises awareness of the delicate relationships between man and nature. I also recognize that travel, especially academic travel, is important for better understanding architecture as a discipline which differs greatly by
culture. I can attest to the fact that travel inspires and reveals architectures of relevancy as well as exhibiting styles of architecture in context. Of particular interest were the places that exhibited passive vernacular architecture and climate responsive design. Beyond academia, I have always enjoyed the process of creating. Furniture design and sculpture were early interests that led to my architectural devotion. Of particular note was my study in Copenhagen where I explored the history of Scandinavian discipline in the practice of furniture making.
Bloomfield Nexus Center Passage to the Park Located in Bloomfield, The Bloomfield Recreation Center, pool and park is known for its adjacency to the Bloomfield Bridge. My objective for this project was to restore the ecology of the site, while promoting movement, access and connectivity. Solutions for the site and building were facilitated by researching the Venice Biennale and its diversity of approaches to architecture that exhibits “a generosity of spirit and a sense of humanity at the core of architecture’s agenda, focusing on the quality of space itself and the ability for architecture to provide free and additional spatial gifts to those who use it and on its ability to address the unspoken wishes of strangers.”
Year: Fall 2018 Advanced Synthesis Option Studio: Freespace Coordinator: Jennifer Lucchino
PROPOSED SITE PLAN The biggest issue with this site is lack of accessibility. Existing site amenities include updated pool, playground, bocci courts, and dek hockey rink. Three park-
ing lots service the park and are located under the bridge. There are 3 access points, each posing a loose connectivity to the amenities of the site. Proposals address park access, connectivity and spatial quality of in-between
or unused areas. Other concerns emanated from the siteâ€™s ability to contextualize notions of natural environment through understanding the ecological forces at play.
SITE HYDROLOGY PLAN Hydrology maps the flow of water on site as it moves across the land. Areas of water collection occur primarily where existing site modifications have flattened
surfaces for program amenities. Embracing the flow of water during heavy rain helps manage water retention runoff and helps in minimizing damage. Along the paths, areas of high ground are imagined as open areas for interaction. Low areas are envisioned as bioswales.
Areas with 10% grade or more are afforested to provide shaded pathways and create a buffered area between the park and the bridge.
SITE CONNECTIVITY Site intervention relied on the organic nature of how topography shapes the way people use the site. Converging traffic denotes areas where people come together, these destinations are characterized as Freespaces.
SITE BIOSWALE PLAN In accordance with site topography, bioswales are placed where water terminates on site. While some bioswales will provide plant diversity, the majority of the bioswales added to the park and recreation center integrate into the architecture using site ecology to enhance interaction between users and the environment.
RECREATION CENTER The steel vessel works to connect people in the park by providing an entrance worthy of the space. It also allows for access to all the spaces in the recreation center. Previously, this couldn’t occur without crossing the basketball court. Tying it to the neighborhood vernacular, the connecting vessel, like a front porch, is a threshold that mediates access to the recreation center and adds spectator seating for viewing the basketball court. Structurally, the form is comprised of 12 steel frames that play off the idea of a bridge connecting over steep terrain.
ROOF PLAN GROUND FLOOR
1/8” = 1’-0”
1/8” = 1’-0”
Areas in Red show existing structure. Renovations of the existing building include restored pool house amenities, basket ball court, classrooms, and banquet hall. An addition on the west side of the building expands existing community spaces while providing accessibility and circulation through the building.
A two story staircase inside the vessel separates the vessel from the existing structure. The staircase terminates at the rooftop garden where a patio area and green roof provide views of the neighborhood.
SPECTATOR SPACE The vessel is the lobby for the recreation center. It is the moment where people converge. Seating allows for spectators to view the basketball court inside or the dek hockey court outside.
MODEL MAKING Models of the structure helped define the relationship of the structure to the floor plates and grand stair case. Structurally, it was important that the interior of the vessel (floor plates and stairs) provided lateral resistance while the steel structure elevated the vessel up off the ground. Stripped of any decorative effects, the structure is the sole aesthetic component of the vessel.
Uptown Middle Environmental Charter School Uptown Middle is distinguished by its single loaded corridors visible from the street. The corridor’s structural design flaunts undulating dendriform shaped pillars creating a forest effect for students to connect with outside the classrooms. The selling point of it’s environmentally driven curriculum is south facing green house serving as a focal point for the cafeteria, assembly and library spaces. Biophilic engagement was a primary design decision. All classrooms have 200 sq ft outdoor patio spaces and they overlook a large 2nd floor outdoor garden and classroom. The corridors express the activities of the school to it’s surrounding while also providing students with bright collective spaces that engage with the city environment.
Year: Spring 2017 Integration Studio: Advanced Construction Coordinator: Steve Lee
PROGRAM STRATEGY Uptown Middle is programmed to have double height spaces on the first floor with private classrooms on the third and fourth floors. The more public spaces include the assembly space facing south and the learning lab/library visible from 5th Ave. The greenhouse straddles these two double height spaces on the second floor.
An L shaped parti was chosen to promote cross ventilation through the classrooms from the south-west. The location of the corridor, visible from two heavily trafficked streets ,creates a noise buffer protecting the classrooms from unwanted noise when operable windows are in use.
DENDRIFORM DESIGN Inspired by American Architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s S.C. Johnson Wax headquarter’s dendriform columns, Italian engineer Pier Luigi Nervi’s concrete structural forms, and Spanish Architect Antoni Gaudí’s dramatic undulating facades, precedent study played a large role in finding creative ways for expressing visions of nature through structural methodology. In order to reduce budget for a one of a kind structural design, the highly visible hallway spaces feature dendriform structures while the remainder of the building is constructed from a two way steel structure with 25’ x 50’ bays aligned to meet the desired classroom area.
A FOREST OF TREES Metal Me sh
2â€? Cast Co
The dendrites are comprised of a steel structural tree with branches extending to the edge of the floor plate. The branches are of varying lengths to support the irregular floor plates. A metal mesh drapes around the branches like leaves on a tree, allowing for lighting incorporated into the tree structure to light the trees from the inside out. A reinforced, poured in place, concrete slab rests atop the trees providing a floor plate for above floors and lateral stability. The trunks of the trees are aligned on a vertical axis to diffuse the weigh down the trunks and into the ground. The trees seemingly transcend the building envelope as the floor slabs oscillate.
Main Oﬃce Lobby
Assembly / Cafeteria W/C W/C
third floor, classrooms & terrace
IN PLAN The learning lab, defined as a space for learning through doing, is the modern equivalent of a library or computer lab. As a space that embodies a child’s ability to demonstrate learning, it is proudly presented at the front of the building; visible from the street. The two story space features a second floor mezzanine with staircase access to the greenhouse. The adjacent two-story space serves as a versatile cafeteria/multipurpose space. The greenhouse hangs down into the space. It provides the kitchen with fresh vegetables grown by the students year round.
The third floor serves as one of two classroom floors with access to the green roof. Visible in the floor plan above, are 6 classrooms, a large storage room, restrooms and a 12’30’ single loaded corridor. The differences in hallway floor plates allow for visual connectivity between all floors. The terrace features a large outdoor classroom space and shallow planters. The topographic forms present opportunity for built in furniture and different height plants. Elevational change also discourages running on the green roof. From the left side of the roof, students can see down into the greenhouse. Water is collected from the roof and used to water plants in the greenhouse below.
. Miltenberger St.
PARTS OF A WHOLE The section above reveals the central cafeteria space, with green roof above. The hallway reveals the nature of the dendrite forest. Structurally, the section shows the floor joists terminating where the dendriform hallway structure begins. Adjacent to the hallway, on floors 3 and 4, are classroom spaces that call for south facing windows protected from direct sunlight by 8’ overhangs. An axonometric diagram to the left reveals the three structural elements that together create the building. Structural walls are used throughout the building and are clad in red brick.
District Community Medium density, mixed unit housing development Located riverside in the Strip District, District Community is a residential housing development that breaks the rigidity of the urban grid opting for a living environment that celebrates shifting terrain and organic pathways. The row houses and apartments feature a number of sustainable strategies including cross ventilation, natural daylighting, rainwater retention, afforestation, and walkability.
Year: Fall 2017 Integration Studio: Ecology Form & Feedback Coordinator: Dana Cupkova
TOPOGRAPHY By shaping the topography to accept the buildings, the contact with the ground takes on an important role, both visually and functionally. Bermed earth helps in insulating the units. The topography also allows for the management of water. Water channels along hillsides provide paths for rainwater to collect in rain gardens.
Row Houses 5 Clusters, 16 units Cluster: 2,500 sq ft-3,500 sq ft Total: 80 units
[Cluster 2] Apartments
6 Clusters, 18 units Cluster: 1,500 sq ft-2,000 sq ft Total: 108 units
As a formulaic approach to producing new configurations, matrices exhibit the exploration of public to private space and the rising of the ground to meet the architecture.
Above Ground 70%
Bermed Areas 30%
With two configurations selected, each cluster takes on the task of defining ways in which units connect to one another. With the chosen configurations, red units align to promote larger public terraces and circulation while the blue units are characterized by the division of private spaces.
Housing, Landscape, Mixed use
NW Solar Radiation Maps Massing type 1
Massing type 2
Summer Shadows 8am-8pm
MAN MADE ECOLOGICAL Incorporating both urban and ecological forces, this map layers desperate ideas bringing them together to create expressions that target boundaries between interlinked concepts.
SITE MODEL The site and buildings are joined together and expressed in the same language.
100 YEAR FLOOD PLAN In the event of a 100 year flood (15 ft rise in water level), the site accepts the water without it interfering with the flow of people and traffic. Here we see the road and
the hardscape working a final strongholds against such a flood.
The Aquaponics Project Portable Hydroponic Market “The Aquaponics Project” is an entrepreneurial enterprise created by and comprised of University of Pittsburgh Students from various disciplines with diverse skills and backgrounds. The project utilizes aquaponics to enlighten and educate the public regarding sustainable farming practices in Pittsburgh’s urban environment. Recipient of the Beta Burg Grant
Year: 2017 Contractor: Sipes & Son
AQUAPONICS Aqauponics is a closed-loop agricultural system that uses waste produced by aquacultural fish as nutrients for hydroponically grown plants. In return, purified water is feed back to the fish. With this innovative method of farming, sustainability and efficiency is optimized by decreasing the
90% LESS WATER USE
amount of land and water necessary for farming. It also eliminates the need to transport produce into urban areas and it creates a controlled growing environment that decreases the time between harvests with no seasonal boundaries.
70% LESS ENERGY USE
RETROFITTING The shipping container, retrofitted with a removable greenhouse on its roof, holds forty hanging growth towers and all the necessary tools and equipment for processing the produce while maintaining its growing environment year round. In addition to the produce, the freshwater fish are seasonally harvested and sold.
ORIENTATION Pedestrian Access Traffic Flow
The east/west orientation of the container has been decided by figuring optimal sun exposure between the hours of 11am and 5pm. Between these hours, the sun is not blocked by surrounding buildings.
VISIBILITY Access to the container will be provided by the three cross walks leading to the site. The container will be visible from surrounding streets and sidewalks, and be visible 50 to 100 ft away where the Gateway Station or other buildings do not impede the visual path.
PROCESS As the project designer I used my backround in architecture to help interpret how the system would work and how it would be expressed internally. In working with our building contractor, I began creating the design and images for the greenhouse container. This included construction plans, renderings, logos, container graphics, and other visuals.
R O E C T J
Epic Metal Competition Entry Portable Community Market The main form-based concept for the farm stand is derived from a combination of origami and methods of deconstruction. â€˜Transparencyâ€™ is the idea behind the stand in terms of its materiality as well as function so as to make it an educational experience for all customers, young and old alike.
Year: 2017 Integration Studio: Advanced Construction Coordinator: Steve Lee Collaborator: Nikhita Baghwat
DESIGN INGENUITY The exterior of the farm stand is a flush surface, consistent throughout with plastic sheathing. This helps make the structure water-tight. This smooth exterior rests on an interior surface of corrugated Epicore metal decking, which provides continuity and visual harmony through its geometric configuration that
continues from wall to ceiling. When the market is not in use it folds closed. A window provides a visual access point for the hydroponics wall to be seen as well as other interior features. Therefore it remains engaged even when closed.
HYDROPONIC GROW WALL The hydroponics wall creates a focal piece for drawing customers in.
The wall exhibits fresh greens while the veritcality saves space. A grow light and timed water pump help the plants stay healthy even when the market is closed. Hydroponics systems employ low maintenance growth walls that use water as
a delivery system for nutrients in place of soil. The wall is intended to serve as a common learning tool for both students and farm stand visitors.
The main form-based concept for the farm stand is derived from a combination of origami and deconstruction. ‘Transparency’ is the aim of the stand in terms of its materiality as well as function so as to make it an educational experience for all customers, young and old alike.
The idea behind the form is the ability to ‘fold’ and ‘unfold’ the standard dimensions of 16’0”*8’6”*11’6”, so as to increase circulation and interaction space within and around the stand. The structure is made of semi transparent polycarbonate panels to make it lightweight, and Epicore decking for its thin profile and versatility .
STRUCTURE All moving parts close into the walls to ensure a flush appearance. While each wall is unique, Epicore contours the panels giving them strength and expressing the feeling of unfolding motion. Hydraulic lifts assist in the opening and closure of the farm stand and allows employees to open or close the stand with minimal effort.
The exterior of the farm is a flush surface, con througho plastic sheathing. Thi make the st water-tight. This s exterior rests on an i surface of corrugated E metal decking, which p continuity and visual ha thro geometric configurati continues from wall to
Dispelling the Nature of Illumination Contemporary Fine Arts Installation This intervention imagined for the entrance to the Studio for Creative Inquiry suppresses the amount of space and light around you to promote a feeling of enclosure, thereby creating a place for self-reflection and passage dissimilar to the uniform atmosphere found throughout The Contemporary Fine Arts Building.
Year: Fall 2018 Advanced Synthesis Option Studio: Freespace Coordinator: Jennifer Lucchino
MATERIAL EXPERIENCE Planes of acrylic material rest within a larger metal frame. Opaque panels assert the form of the installation while moments of translucency echo to the space beyond. Mirrored panels refract light entering the space and distort the user’s perception based on angle,
LONGITUDINAL SECTION SCALE: 1/2”=1’-0”
occupancy and daylighting. Only by cascading through the space will the user fully understand the truth of the form that lies below the tiers of step. Light from the window diffuses around the opaque panels of the installation and filters through tinted
translucent panels while a light tube condenses and redirects light into areas leading up to the installation. The bench and table create a continuous line of sight which terminates at a mirror where the window was previously in view.
Water Retention Methodologies for the Bloomfield Recreation Center and Park Ecological Thinking Tangential to Freespace Studio, this project suggests sustainable water strategies for the Bloomfield Recreation Center site. The primary goal was to assess the state of hydrology on the site and to problem solve strategies that celebrate the water as a part of the nature of the park while also responsibly managing itâ€™s destructive effects. This project serves as a learning tool for assessing hydrology and finding solutions applicable to the Pittsburgh region where sewer infrastructures are unable to meet peak demands and hardscape development inhibits water from entering the ground. Year: 2018 Instructor: Dana Cupkova
The site is located in the neighborhood of Bloomfield, 3 miles from Downtown Pittsburgh. The park is one block from the confluence of Liberty Avenue, Main Street, and the Bloomfield Bridge. Most notably, the Bloomfield Bridge runs through the site. With this adjacency, the site takes on the challenge of toxic proximity as the traffic leaves behind pollutants and noise.
Ave. iber ty
n) wntow (To Do
yA ve .
The city map (far left) shows the proximity of the site to downtown. It also reveals the lack of parks around the city, thus suggesting the importance of existing publicly accessible green spaces like the Bloomfield Park.
To Oa k
This park has been part of the Bloomfield neighborhood for over 50 years. Much of the site amenities have fallen into disrepair, including the Recreation Center, which is vacated. In addition to restoring the site to its full potential, the proposed design plan integrates a system of bioswales and a green roof. Additionally, this report suggests that 15% of the site be afforested.
R Rl l
Area by Parcel Area by Parcel Area by Parcel
Area of Focus Area of FocusArea of Focus
Individual Parcels Area byParcel Parcelof Park Land Area by
Area of Focus Focusfor In project Area of Accounted Area
Elements of the site that affect the rationale regarding bioswale size, frequency, and placement include topography, hydrology and gravity. These metrics impact each other as they map out the path of water over the area of the site. The result is a zoning map where each of the 6 zones represent the retention of water in one bioswale. Together, Hydrology these zonesHydrology account for 70% of site water retention. Hydrology Hydrology
Parking lot 1 Parking lot 2
Recreaï¿½on Center Playground Pool Deck
INPUTS Basketball Court Depth 12 inches Area 155 sq � Avg. 97 gallons / rain
-Soil Permeability -Soil Quality -Water Capacity -Depth of Bedrock
-Topography -Grade -Area -Permeable to impervious surface ratio -Roof Area
Parking Lot 2 Depth 12 inches Area 165 sq � Avg. 103 gallons / rain
Building’s Edge Depth 12 inches Area 60 sq � Avg. 37 gallons / rain
Playground Depth 6 inches Area 30 sq � Avg. 53 gallons / rain
Forest Depth 12 inches Area 243 sq � Avg. 151 gallons / rain
SOIL ANALYSIS URB: Urban Land Rainsboro Complex Gently Sloping
Gallons of rain and resulting volumes for daily and hourly rain loads based on: -Precipitation by month -Max 24 hour rainfall -Frequency of heavy rain
The resulting data defines the size and locations of bioswales on the site. Sized properly, the site will retain 70% of its water. Through the bioswales, the water will return to ground water, thereby preventing water runoff from the site.
-Efficiency of water accumulating in bioswales
Bioswales are located and sized in relationship to the amount of water entering each bioswale collection zone. Map (far left) illustrates placement and area (sq ft) of bioswale based on depth and collection area.
According to the GIS mapping of soil typology reflective of the information published in the Soil Survey of Allegheny County. It has been established that the site falls into the Rayne (Rainsboro) category of soil. This information is consistent with it’s location on the slope of a ravine. Different characteristics of the predicted soil have provided data on the performance of the soil. Qualities of the soil include the permeability of the soil in inches per hour, seasonal fluctuation in the water table, and soil limitations. (Left & Right) Excerpts from the Allegheny County Soil Survey profile the soil. Urban Rainsboro soil is present on site. https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_MANUSCRIPTS/pennsylvania/PA003/0/allegheny.pdf
-Substrate Depth -Water Capacity -Catchment Area -Efficiency
-Non-native soil content -Rainfall data quantified by frequency and length of rain occurrences -Properties of the soil at maximum saturation
How much does it rain on the rainiest day? 3.73 inches or .15 inches/hour
How many days will the bioswales receive rain? 129 Days Area of Focus
How much rain falls on the rainiest day on the site? 3,729,179 cubed inches or 16143.63 gallons/rainy day
On average how much does it rain on a rainy day? 2.9 inches or .12 inches per hour
Parking Lot 2 Forest Playground Parking Lot 1 Basketball Court Buildingâ€™s Edge Bioswales
parking lot 2
Basket Ball Court
percent of total site
catchment area sq ft
cubic inches of Rain/day caught
Area of bioswale inches2
Area of bioswale feet2
water in bioswale (in3 ) per hour depth of bioswale inches
permeability in3 /hour Water/day (in3)
volume captured /rainy day (in3) 2028840
7770.833333 Gallons / day
cubic feet water in bioswale / day
AFFORESTATION In promoting a good relationship between soil and plant, the project seeks to restore a portion of the site to a forest like setting. Area with a grade of 10% or more (approximate 9,400 sq ft.) will be the primary location for afforestation.
The addition of trees to the site will work to create a buffer between the bridge and the Bloomfield Rec Center and Park.
ADAPTED PLANTS Grain and seed Crop: Good Grassland and Legumes: Good Wild Herbaceous Plants: Good Hardwood Trees: Good Coniferous Plants: Good Wetland Plants: Poor Shallow Water Plants: Poor Open-land: Good Woodland: Good Wetland: Poor
Red Oak Ash Sugar
Yellow Poplar Larch Norway Spruce White pine Virginia Pine
June 26 15 hours of light
June 26 15 hours of light
January 26 9 hours of light
October 26 / March 26 12 hours of light
January 26 9 hours of light
Summer Shadow Map June 26 8am /12pm/ 6pm
Fall / Spring Shadow Map Oct 26 / March 26 8am /12pm/ 6pm
Trees will play a part in playing down the monumentality of the bridge, and the large October 26 / Marchparticulate 26 matter leaving 12 hours of light the bridge. Trees can dampen the sound pollution and act as a visual buffer. Shadow studies show that the bridge minimally impacts shading on the site, therefore it is assumed that foliage in the proximity of the bridge will grow.
Winter Shadow Map January 26 8am /12pm/ 6pm
Air Pollution June- August
In understanding the complex “nature” of the site, I looked at the impact of the bridge on the site. The site’s proximity suggests high levels of pollutants in the area.
N BREATHE PROJECT https://breatheproject.org/pollution-map/
Precipitation averages w2.weather.gov National weather Service, observed weather, Annual Climate Report, Pittsburgh
RAIN WATER 38.19
Total yearly rain (in)
Ground Water is essential for promoting healthy soil and foliage. It allows for plants to replenish and grow and promotes biophilia. Climate modeling on soil moisture retention suggests a strong linkage between soil moisture and the variability of surface temperature and precipitation. Rain water that should be returning to the ground is contributing to combined sewer loads and not being reabsorbed into the ground. The issue is primarily a result of non porous, paved or otherwise covered ground surfaces within the city.
Days with > 0.01
max rainfall (in) / 24 hours, 2018
Precipitation averages w2.weather.gov National weather Service, Days with > 0.1 96 observed weather,
Yearly Normal Cumulative
Days with > .5 Total yearly rain (in) 28
Average rainfall/ rainy day 129 days)
Annual Climate Report, Pittsburgh
Days with > 1
Days with > 0.01 Days of Bioswale Use
Days with > .5
Days with > 1
Days of Bioswale Use
rainfall on site/ 24 hour average(in 3) rainfall on site/ 24 hour max (in3)
Gallons of Water on avg. falling on site / 24 hours
GREEN ROOF 75% of the roof areas will be covered in extensive green roof. An extensive green roof consists of a shallow amount of grow medium (4 inches) and grass like foliage. The rain collected could be returned to the ground or a 20,0000 gallon cistern could provide gray-water for flushing, landscaping or maintenance.
Days with > 0.1
Avg monthly Rainfall in Inches
Rooftop Collection at Avg Gallons of 80% Rainfall per Ft2 Avg Gal Available of roof area per Month based on Efficiency***(in Gallons) Roof Area in Ft2* (Col B x 0.623)
rainfall on site/ 2,899,362.00 24 hour average(in 3) max rainfall (in) / rainfall on site/ 24 hours, 2018 24 hour max (in3) 310,764.95 Yearly Normal Gallons of Water on Cumulative avg. falling on site Average rainfall/ 1,806,302.53 / 24 hours rainy day 129 days)
Gallons Required Per Month
Monthly Surplus Gallons if Any (based on 80% eff)
3.73 34.8 2.9 2,899,362.00 310,764.95
Cubic Feet of Storage Needed
The Language of Representation Reveals many forms In response to the 2018 Venice Biennale, I began thinking more about how architects use representation to convey ideas about architecture, both built and unbuilt. In my assessment I found that while there was no end to the amount of information any one architect could provide on a project, it was usually those projects presented with minimal information and experiential tools that were the most provoking. With too much information comes the possibility of seeing nothing at all, but to define the genesis of a project in a single idea gives the viewer something to retain and contemplate. Year: 2018 Instructor: Francesca Torello
Modes of Representation
Tactics of Representation
-Model -Object -Drawing -Sketch -Image
-Scale -Engagement -Time -Sensation -Material -Context -Deconstruction
-Film -Interview -Text -Experience
-Abstraction -Layer -Logic -Light -Motif -Perspective -Social Invention
Exhibitions, including the 2018 Venice Biennale, have the challenge of interpreting and representing bodies of built work that exist elsewhere and cannot be physically present. How do we use our skills as architects to translate the experience of a built work into something that is concrete and representational while expressing its meaning and engaging users in dialogue? Present at the Venice Biennale are an array of representations, each unique in evoking the user’s ability to assess the representation and understand its meaning. And while meaning can be interpreted differently, the goal of each exhibition is somewhat static as it responds to ideas of Freespace. My interest in representation lies within the ability of an architect to capture the language of a built form and express that language through representations that are shaped by experiential qualities. Specifically the connection between experiential representation and user engagement. Exhibitions or installations that can elicit meaningful connections with viewers are often the exhibits that end up having a lasting impression. As stated by panelist Architect Mario Botta during “The Practice of Teaching as part of Meetings on Architecture”, questions like “how do we teach thinking” and “what is the history of thinking” grapples with ideas of representing architecture and the way in which architects and non-architects think differently about architecture. It can be concluded that representing architecture through the teaching of an architectural language is understood by those within the discipline and is not understood as well by the general public. Coming to grips with this, is the fact that through the Biennale Architettura, people of different disciplines are coming together to assess and understand architecture. It is important that the presentations, laced with nuances in architectural language, are translated so that everyone may view each project in light of its meaning. Bridging the gaps in architectural thinking can be achieved in part by representing architecture through the experience. In an attempt to answer these questions relating to teaching architecture, it can be assumed that while the process of creating architecture is a learned skill, representing architecture should follow universal principals in line with more humanistic approaches of teaching concepts through common experiences. In understanding the need for transparency within the expressions of our architectures there is a call for representations of architectural exhibitions to dig deeper into the interest of its viewers and to captivate, inform, and provide viewers with visions of, for instance, Freespace. In understanding the scale of Freespace exhibitions, featuring over 100 exhibits, it is important to understand the limitations of the viewer’s ability to absorb large amounts of information, and as an exhibitor to be selective in
DNA_Design and Architects, Songyang
what is used to gain the attention of the viewer so that they may converse with the expressions of Freespace. Approaches for interacting in any given project vary, but a few strategies that worked well at this Biennale are scale, motif, engagement, and material . While the first two can apply to any mode of representation, the latter two are associated with modes that favor an experience. An experience (as I see it) is the interplay between an exhibit and the viewer, whereby using or engaging with the exhibit the viewer completes or adopts the architect’s vision. In representing architectures, it has been the use of drawings, (elevations, sections, plans, etc.) scaled models, text, and image that has provided a foundation for comprehending architectural ideas. While many exhibitions showcase these styles of representation using one or more of the above, these devices, as proven by the exhibition, are reflected in the finished work. By this I mean that the finished product, the building, is expressed. This “point in time” representation, more often than not, fails to reveal the process of the design or the implications it has had on the site and people after the building is completed. Therefore, while exhibits may feature one or more of these techniques, the failure lies in their inability to highlight concepts relating to Freespace.
DNA_Design and Architects,
Another failure with traditional methodology lies in the inability of the viewer to feel connected to the work. Drawings are two dimensional, text lacks imagery and models lack the engagement associated with living in the real world. When an exhibit relies on text to convey its meaning, the process of interpreting meaning is skewed and the associated imagery is restricted. By complying with this formulation the user is at a loss in actively engaging with the layers of architectural language. Viewing the work becomes a lecture and less of a conversation. Viewers would be better served in reaching their own conclusion about what they are seeing, even if it is informed in some way by their logic; they don’t want to be told explicitly where the logic lies or how to view architecture. The use of text or verbal based explanations as a primary form of sharing architectural language is a rejection of the idea that a user can think for themselves.
An exhibit that exemplifies its detachment
from its viewers was DNA Design and Architecture’s Songyang Story. Despite the use of text, models and imagery, the projects lack relatability due to the lack of people shown within the exhibition. The projects detailed the complete designs, including users of the space perspective and scale items within the models. The displays felt rehearsed and while these works are able to convey their importance to the region through video interview and text, the models and imagery failed to do much in this regard. Similarly, the Cube Office Tower presented by Estudio Carme Pintos missed the mark. After viewing the model, which is exceptional in no specific way other than showing the building as a whole, one is left with a sense that it lacks meaning. It is only by reading the accompanying text that the building acquires significance in exemplifying Freespace. Having been told how the Cube Office Tower is Freespace, there is a lack authenticity in experiencing how the Freespace is working through the project. This architecture-centric model of representation lacks any indicators of its humanism including the presence of scale people who could happily be occupying the common areas in demonstration of its “embodied energy”. In use of formal architectural representation, an outlier is the
Espana Pavillion. Despite “too much information to process” and lack of anything experiential in nature, it perfectly captures the interest of viewers and the spirit of Freespace. Through multimedia presentation from a variety of architectural projects, it’s a little like walking through Instagram. With the logic of “there is something for everyone” establishing a connection with the exhibit is mindlessly easy. The display of beautiful contrasting imagery leads to feelings of inclusivity, creativity and ease of use. Enjoy a few drawings that speak to you and breeze through the rest. As put best by Frank Lloyd Wright, “less is more only when more is too much”. Experiences are powerful in their ability to stimulate a progressive understanding of a project
when the addition of each piece within the experience leads to a more fulfilled understanding of the overall meaning. In this way, time becomes a tool, as it is nearly impossible to comprehend the meaning of an entire installation all at once; time provides a measure for taking in a project incrementally as the user walks through and gains insight. Time allows for the user to have a rich and evolving dialog with the exhibit where the user’s commitment to seeing the display to its end is a testament to their investment in the ideas presented. An example of this is Andra Matin’s exhibit of Elevation where by passing through the exhibit the narrative of interweaving spaces plays out. Because it is reasonably difficult for a participant to fully
Paredes Pedrosa Arquitectos’,
The Dream of Space Produces Form
Paredes Pedrosa Arquitectos’,
The Dream of Space Produces Form
grasp the theme of the Biennale with a minimal attention span, the careful use of motif carried through an exhibit, often symbolic in nature of a more complex project, helps visually connect one object or image to the next while lessening the time a user must spend at a project to understand it. Motif works to bridge the difference between mediums of representation and often can represent larger concepts at play. When paired with other tactics like layering, repetition or perspective, the dominant idea of a motif is the foundation for other concepts to evolve. Case in point is Paredes Pedrosa Arquitectos’ The Dream of Space Produces Form. Each of the six projects within the exhibit is explored through a small model sitting within a cavity formed from a section cut of the model. The cavity’s
Unique Instruments: Unexpectant Spaces
use of negative space outlines the prominent feature of each building, informing the viewer of the conceptual foundation of each project. The gestures of form illustrate how the architect manipulates each space to work with issues of light, sound, or connectivity within the resulting void. Similarly, Unique Instruments: Unexpectant Spaces by Hall Mcknight, uses floor plans as motif to foreshadow the experience each space captures. Through a series of portals, the user engages with the exhibit to look into the space and un-
derstand the experience tied to the visible floor plan above. While each portal is hidden and viewed by one person at a time, the floor plans are the motifs which are visible from a distance and can be consumed prior to seeing the “experience” within. Creating conversations and narratives instead of lecturing on architecture will change the way we view architectural exhibitions. Viewers are moved by experiences that include a mixture of representational “modes” with layers expressing “tactics” of representation while pieces come together forming a cohesive and engaging story.
FLOATING SLAB TABLES
The beauty in this design is the work of nature with the natural characteristics of the wood grain as the focus of this table. Created in a pair, the welded hairpin legs accentuate the curves of the 3.5â€? thick wooden slabs. 2014
An exercise in de-constructing a box gracefully. Applied rule-set of orthogonal cuts and 5 move allowance. No preferred orientation for resting or viewing the objects. 2014
CABINET RISING ABOVE LEGS
A testament to Danish simplicity and American craft methods. The cabinet features dovetail construction, copper inlay, and a handmade copper handle. Stand allows chest to appear be floating. Cross rail mounting
technique is inspired by works of Finn Juhl. Danish “Soap Finish” on white maple. 2018
HILLSIDE GESTURE SHELVES Topographical mapping of a hillside provided the geometry for these nested shelves. With an aim towards low material high design, the shelves were made from a single unfinished 4’x 8’ plywood sheet. Shelves measure 4’ x 3’ x 6”.
SCANDINAVIAN DESIGN Developed and constructed in a tight 7-week time frame in Copenhagen, this Scandinavian chair was fashioned from oak using reputable Danish construction techniques while consciously conserving material. The minimalistic and functional design was inspired by the Danish classics, such as those by Hans J. Wegner and Poul Kjaerholm. While retaining the essentials of comfort and design, this lounge chair merges human and architectural form with the juxtaposed elements of linear and curvilinear shape.
PENDANT LIGHTS The perception of contained space created by these wire globes is the foundation of these sculpted pendant lights. Paired with eye catching light bulbs and colored cords, the globes draw the eye to a minimalist form that impacts space without overwhelming it. 2012
WELD CHAIR Inspired by the everyday beauty and function of metal bridges, I crafted my weld chair with the idea of a strong geometric foundation that could embrace the human form. It is paired with handsewn cotton cushions that add a plush softness to the form while maintaining a strong linear theme. Weighing almost 100 lbs., the weld chair exemplifies the strength and beauty of solid steel. 2013
BLOCK TABLE & LAMP Feeding my interest in the capabilities of Quikrete sand mix concrete, these pieces tested my ability to create formwork and produce simple concrete shapes. While the lamp incorporates wood blocks as the primary stacking material above the concrete base, the side table uses a welded base to suspend the concrete block. 2017
Woodworking Fabrication Welding
Rhino Revitt AutoCad Sketchup InDesign Photoshop Diva for Rhino Sefira
412 736 4339
CARNEGIE MELLON UNIVERSITY
UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH
Master of Architecture GPA: 3.25 Fall 2017-Spring 2019
B.A. Architectural Studies GPA: 3.5 Major GPA 3.8 Magna Cum Laude Fall 2013-Spring 2017
Carnegie Museum of Art - Summer Camp Education Specialist (April - September 2017)
Fisher ARCHitecture - Active role in model building, firm operations, curation and professional development. (September - December 2016)
CO-FOUNDER / DESIGNER
The Aquaponics Project - An urban Aquaponics farm with an innovative closed system. Awarded BetaBurg Grant for innovative Start-up companies in 2016.
SoA Tuition Scholarship SoA Funded Scholarship to attend ISA Lab Sustainability Conference in Valencia, Spain
Work Study Awarded for Attendance at the 2018 Venice Biennale
Carnegie Mellon University - Advanced Synthesis Option: Freespace Jennifer Lucchino (Fall 2018) University of Pittsburgh - Foundation Studio 1 - Jozef Petrak (Spring 2017) University of Pittsburgh - The Built Environment - Prof. Mina Rajagopala (Fall 2016)
SoA Graduate Student Advisory Council (September 2017 - Present) SoA 2018 Graduate Orientation Coordinator (June - August 2018)
ITALY ASO Studio: Freespace (Oct 2018) Research and documentation of Venice Biennale Architettura 2018.
DARLENE COVINGTON-DAVIS Graduate Program Coordinator firstname.lastname@example.org
SPAIN “ISA Lab“ (June 2018) Polytechnic University of Valencia Proposal for sustainable development in context of Valencia. Multidisciplinary sustainability conference.
JENNIFER LUCCHINO Studio Instructor CMU SoA email@example.com
COPENHAGEN “DIS Furniture Studio” (June - July 2016) The study of Scandinavian Design. Design and production of a chair.
JOANNA COMMANDAROS Professor of Sclupture University of Pittsburgh firstname.lastname@example.org
Maddi Johnson |
Maddibellajohnson@gmail.com 412 736 4339
Maddi Johnson Graduate of Carnegie Mellon University | Master of Architecture