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PORTFOLIO maria valdes

M. Arch Candidacy Portfolio . Savannah College of Art & Design

This portfolio is to be read as a self-reflective composition. The photographs marking the front cover and subsequent chapter divides are allegorical portrayals of myself as architecture through which I express various emotional and physical states of built environment interaction. This is how I see the world.

author’s note

I dream of spaces full of wonder. spaces that rise and envelop flowingly without beginning

without end of a jointless material white and gold. When I place the first line to capture the dream

the dream becomes less Louis I. Kahn

immersed in chaos. It is through science, I am grounded in logic. It is through history, I seek comprehension. It is through architecture, I find meaning. It is through art, I am

Just as architecture is subject to the tumultuous circumstances of human existence, so too do I find myself in continuous flux with parameters of the present as well as limitations of my own imagination. Within my work, I wish

to embody order and anarchy. I am drawn to the painterly quality often hidden by a straight line, yet I am fascinated by the inherent laws to which all things must abide. I see my architecture as a point of reference for a time and understand its often autochthonous relationship to the place from which it is conceived. My work is the

connection through time and space. It is all that

I aim to be. It is all that I could ever hope to become. For architecture is more than mere aesthetic value to the physical sense, more than function born from human need. Architecture and the spaces we create spawn eternal memories, metaphysical premonitions, uninterrupted subconscious, and

devoid of boundaries. personal summary

I am the architecture I create.


Vietnamese Restaurant . ARCH 302 Train Station . DSGN 223 LeConte Woodmanston Memorial Installation . ARCH 300 Memorial Chapel Artist’s Residence . DSGN 225 Science Research Center . DSGN 224 Metro Station + Children’s Museum . ARCH 303 Mixed Use Residence . ARCH 404

Artistic Productions . MISC.

table of contents

Studio II . ARCH 302 . Professor Ngo . Winter


Vietnamese Restaurant

un . interruption To be uninterrupted, an architecture in perfect balance with itself and the surrounding context, exemplifies the inherent desire of art to proceed in continuous momentum and the instinctive duty of structure to exist in its present state of inertia. Located at the heart of Charleston’s picturesque Waterfront Park, the project of a Vietnamese Restaurant sought to incorporate site strengths with programmatic data and cultural influence into a successful design for city inhabitants and visitors. The primary concept of “uninterruption” resulted from choosing to emphasize the park’s unique pedestrian traffic flow and the metaphor of the building as a lotus petal. Since the lotus flower can be understood as a terrestrial element that exists naturally in an aquatic environment, so too does the design straddle the divide between water and land in an effort to connect man with nature, man with architecture. The divide is then enveloped and celebrated within the design, by accentuating the form through hierarchy and use of complementary material.



program With careful consideration given to the precedents of successful restaurant design, the building’s programmatic requirements gave way to heavy influence in spatial planning and layout within the already established conceptual form. By recognizing patterns and distinct characteristics of each architectural space, the design then began to naturally conform to the most plausible solution of optimum spatial comfort and usability.

basic ratios of space Public to Private Space Circulation Space Mechanical Space

60% : 40% 20-25% of square footage 20% of square footage

code requirements According to the International Building Code A2: 5-7 sq.ft. per person 10-15 sq.ft. for comfortable lounge seating 9 sq.ft. is the optimum design seating number

lower level floor plan

listing of spaces KITCHEN preparation cleaning storage recieving

40% : 1260 sq.ft.

DINING 60% : 3680 sq.ft. areas of experience bathrooms waiter station CIRCULATION 25% : 960 sq.ft. hallways + corridors LANDSCAPING garden + vegetation upper level floor plan

progress of form through models

MECHANICAL 10% kitchen use


20% : 600 sq.ft.

exterior perspective at dusk looking west

finalization By celebrating the design’s unique stance toward the connection of land and water, through the resistance to disturb established pedestrian traffic, there arose an opportunity to promote hierarchy and create a visual entry point for the architecture. As seen through the prominent glass trapezoid, the restaurant is cleanly divided into two parts appropriate to their specific function. However, the circulation paths and spatial planning is meant to remain efficiently fluid while following a conceptually dynamic language. upper level bar area

section b.b

entry perspective

east elevation

south elevation

ventilation diagram

materiality palette

detail wall sections showing construction

west elevation

section a.a

north elevation

exploded isometric


Fall . Professor Woods . DSGN 233 . Architectural Fundamentals I

Train Station

formal . metamorphosis With a formalist approach to design, Architectural Fundamentals I is grounded firmly in the idea that a simple geometric configuration can make all the difference to a designer and their subsequent effort to produce architecture. To recapture the exquisite metamorphosis of the process alone is itself nothing short of intriguing. Having gone from two dimensional language to one of complex infrastructure, the project stands as a testament to the underlying value of a concept and its inherent role within a design.


hierarchy diagram

From a parti sketch to a multi dimensional transformation of both tactile and compositionally sound qualities, the project began to evolve using only basic elements of design. Of these elements, a simple square of extruded model parts was then rotated, multiplied and arranged in a linear progression for the optimum design advantage. It is here we see architecture.

plan to section relationship seen as an exploration of various spatial qualities and geometric configurations.

site + building plan

final model studies

site + building section

sun studies

early morning . 6 am

noon . 12 pm

early evening . 6 am

Studio I . ARCH 300 . Professor Montgomery . Fall


LeConte Woodmanston Memorial Installation + Chapel



manifestation . of . memory The LeConte Woodmanston Memorial Installation and Chapel design became an architecture of true human experience, a manifestation of memory. Since the project sought to demonstrate remembrance of the 231 original slaves of the LeConte Woodmanston Plantation during the late 18th century, the concept resulted from a culmination of site characteristics, religious undertones, manipulations of spatial variances, and the human element of interaction. After collaborating with the Fibers Department for additional design generation and inspiration, the chapel evolved into a unique juxtaposition of organic and linear forms similar to the installation’s contrast between the use of inanimate objects as life-like and familiar forms.

le . conte woodmanston plantation Woodmanston was established in 1760 by John Eatton LeConte as an inland swamp rice plantation, which relied on the diversion of slow moving swamp creeks into a reservoir created by earthen dams. This early form of rice production was replaced by the tidal flow system, at the turn of the 18th century, by many plantation owners. In order to employ this new system, plantations had to be built along major coastal rivers. These plantations were not as susceptible to flood and drought as were the inland swamp plantations.

site pictures and experience

“ be sure to show how it was .

good and bad”

installation progress

mary lecount baggs woodmanston plantation slave descendant

realization The anguish of the enslaved people of Liberty County is communicated through angular contortions of twisted limbs in the rice field, as well as fibrous entanglements showing the chains of slavery. Overwhelming scale not only creates a sense of awe, but it also references African art of the human figure. The use of materiality derived from the site contributes to a sense of commonness and will allow the installation to change over time showing the slow but strong evolution of enslavement. These factors allow the memorial to evoke strong emotions that we seek to elicit from visitors of the site.

chapel . metaphor After the memorial installation had been completed, I pursued the physical manifestation of community through the image of two hands intertwined (in the context of prayer or praise). This idea led to the form manipulation of two separate planes that somehow circumambulate one another in a pattern that implies not only movement but a designated path within the site. The finger-like structural members that compose the elevated walkway canopy represent an organic and yet ephemeral plane when intersecting the constrained roof. This opposition of light to heavy, dominant to submissive, reflect back to the notion of two separate spheres of existence between AfricanAmerican slaves and their subsequent owners. Yet in the spirit of awakening and renewal, I chose to portray these two ideas as unified. praying hands as structure

diagrammatic explorations

west elevation

south elevation


ground level floor plan

interior perspective of chapel stage

exploded isometric


Spring Spri Sp ring ng . P Pro Professor rofe fess ssor or Y Yan Yang ang g . DSGN DSGN 225 225 . A Arc Architectural rchi hite tect ctur ural al F Fun Fundamentals unda dame ment ntal alss II III I

Artist’s Residence

geometric . abstraction Nadir Afonso (1920 - ) is a geometric abstractionist from Portugal. Formally trained in architecture, he practiced early in his career with Le Corbuiser and Niemeyer, Afonso later studied painting in Paris. He defends that art is purely objective and ruled by laws that treat art not as an act of imagination but of observation, perception and form manipulation. a cidade dos principes

kuala lampur

The initial project of an artist’s residence lent itself to be derived from inspiration found within the artist’s work. The idea of geometric abstraction, through planar exploration, is what I found so similar to qualities inherent of architecture. The sole parameter of the project was to preserve a tree situated in the middle of our proposed site. In wishing to not only preserve but incorporate the tree into the design, I saw its volume as a cube by which levels intersect to create floors, walls and roofs thereby allowing inclusion of nature throughout the house.







16 17

second floor

third floor

listing of spaces first floor

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

entry living room kitchen dining room storage guest bathroom

7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12.

guest bedroom utility sitting room garage open to below sun deck

13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18.

master bedroom master bathroom walk-in closet office den guest bathroom

longitudinal section

northeastern elevation

laditudinal section

northwestern elevation

south-facing isometric

Architectural Arc A rchi hite tect ctur ural al Fundamentals Fun F unda dame ment ntal alss II . D DSG DSGN SGN N 22 224 4 . Pr Prof Professor ofes esso sor r Gr Gran Granacher anac ache her r . Wi Wint Winter nter er


Science Research Center

prospect + refuge Dissimilar from all the studios before it, Architectural Fundamentals II sought hundreds of explorations in pursuit of the understanding of what a space of prospect and refuge could entail. This constant push for quantitative production and logic eventually led to the various models seen on the next three pages. The end product was a Science Research Center which garnered no floor plans, sections, elevations or perspectives. Its creation was entirely spun from continuous thought, an architectural anomaly of awakening.


Spring . ARCH 300 . Professor Woods . Studio III

Metro Station + Children’s Museum

bi . furcation With much influence to the action of bifurcation. The proposed train terminal will aim to fuse the utilization of a high-speed rail as well as a science museum into the city of Savannah. Through the ideas of separation and union. The terminal will act as a precedent and metaphor for the multipurpose it aims to serve. Reciprocating the language of form and function, the proposed terminal and science museum will branch into their own appropriate sections and converge/ emulate at the central botanical garden. This notion of a central garden, acting as a node in space, figuratively references the colonial botanical garden fields as being an element upon which the site has grown and therefore stands as a metaphor for future success and expansion. From this we are reminded that the past can indeed become a precedent for the future.



structure With the theme of architectural structure as the main driving force behind the Studio III process, our first analysis of investigation was brought forth through various case studies of the primary structural types often seen in design. These types consisted of skeleton, pneumatic, amoeba, algorithmic, shell and tensile

initial . investigation Having done several in-depth case studies of each type, I chose to further investigate the architectural structure type of skeleton as a plausible form for the proposed train station. By diagraming, sketching and modeling an initial investigation of the general skeletal form I hoped to implement, I was immediately drawn to the fluidity and grace one could create through subtle variations in modular placement. Below is on of the initial concept studies produced with this thought in mind.

structural exploration elevation

final . concept This idea of slight variations of form eventually evolved into direct influence from the site itself. Since Trustees’ Garden remains one of the most unique sites in Savannah as a result of its dramatic topographical change and non-linear qualities, the architecture inherently lent its form to be molded by site characteristics and needs. This is where the act of bifurcation came into play within the design. The programmatic dialogue between the train station and the proposed children’s museum began to adhere its needs and wants deep within the building, allowing itself to become the basic form of function and structure. conceptual forms

site . implementation Following the main form derived from conceptual and structural investigations, I sought to incorporate the train station design seamlessly into the downtown Savannah urban fabric. Although the proposed building contrasts heavily from the colonial theme of brickwork and cast iron, the station would aim to maintain the same height language of its surroundings so as not to compete or break the picturesque Savannah skyline. The design would also celebrate the uncharacteristic change in topography by utilizing both levels as human interaction points. The lower level would serve train departures and arrivals, while the upper level would facilitate the museum and open market interaction.

south entrance perspective looking north

finalization The final stage of the proposed train station and children’s museum saw a unique cohesion of spatial plane interaction. Plans for the two levels of the design indicate a sensitive placement of programing dialogue through public and semi-public spaces.

main level floor plan

By utilizing the nearly 40 foot gradual change in elevation, a sense of familiarity can be achieved. Visitors will be able to interact with one another through a multi-purpose building where form is a direct result of functionality of a place. final model

lower level floor plan



space frame skeletal system connection detail

structural adbstractions

Studio IV . ARCH 404 . Professor Bacha . Fall


Mixed Use Residence

da . tum


Austin, Texas has been reputed as one of the top cities for young professionals as well as one of the fastest growing economies in the United States. As such, Austin hosts a huge variety of culture and local business influence it is so famed for valuing. The proposed site of the mixed-use residence building is located at a crossroad of architectural typologies. Specifically, the site experiences influence from commercial, business, residential and retail areas from all across Austin. Upon fist consideration of site and program, I had found inspiration within the idea of the architectural datum line. It was through the datum that I sought to convey not just a building but a community, such an architecture that would reflect its context.

program Due to the site’s unique situation within downtown Austin, it became important to neither compete nor oppose neighboring context. The program for the mixed-use residential design sought influence from each prominent factor of potential user demographic, which led to the varied program layout seen below.


upper level floor plan

spatial . analysis 2 bedroom + 1 bathroom . 940 sq. ft. (2) 1 bedroom + 1 bathroom . 820 sq. ft. 1 bedroom + 1 bathroom . 1,030 sq. ft.

first level floor plan

second level floor plan

third level floor plan

(2) 2 bedroom + 1 bathroom . 900 sq. ft.

shading . device In an effort to create not only passive cooling systems within the design but also means of organic influence, I created “folding form� shading devices for the hottest corners of the building. Since the open air cut-throughs of the building

shading device section detail

material palette

require protection from the harsh southern sun, the “folding forms� allow for ventilation and aesthetic beauty. The skin of the shading devices would most likely be comprised of plated metal sheets or thin clay moulds, following the local material palette common to much of Austin architecture.

sun study models


Miscellaneous Works of Artistic Medium

interior rendering graphics for the building arts . ink on mylar . 11� x 17�

gestural sketch architectural studio II . pastel + charcoal . 8.5� x 10�

charleston perspective architectural studio II . ink on paper . 8.5� x 11�

natural inspiration architectural studio II . ink on paper . 4� x 4�

composition of grapes extracurricular art . oil on canvas . 24” x 38”

vase still life drawing studio I . conte + charcoal . 18� x 24�

special thanks

I would very much like to thank those people who have been most influential in my life: my parents for their undying love and support, my closest friends for all the lessons learned and memories made over the years, and God for providing me the talents and skills to do such work as has been shown.

Undergraduate Portfolio  

My undergraduate portfolio for admission into the M. Arch thesis program at the Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD).

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