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What I cannot create, I do not understand Richard Feynman

Mitchell Hein

1 SOTOhouse

USGBC Natural Talent Design Competition entry

2 materials and methods

Precedent study of construction and structural systems

3 pocket park

4 cantilever 302.561.5912

516 University Ave SE Apt 305 Minneapolis, MN 55414

5 places for learning

6 juxtaposition arts

Studio project exploring design derived from materials and methods of manipulation

Design thinking exercise involving Studio project studying program a cantilever made of playing cards through the design of a Montessori school

Studio focused on site through the design of a youth urban arts facility

Independent project with a partner Professor Jim Lutz

Professor Dan Clark, Martha McQuade, Craig Robinson

Professor Benjamin Ibarra Sevilla

Professor Julia Robinson

Professor Nina Ebbighausen

Summer 2011

Fall 2010

Spring 2010

Spring 2011

Fall 2011

Fall 2010

1 SOTOhouse This is a team submission for the 2011 USGBC Natural Talent competition. The goal was to design a LEED Platinum house sited in Proctor, Minnesota. The proposal called for a footprint no larger than 1,800 square feet on a budget of $150,000. Due to the region’s historical Scandinavian influence, we wanted our design to reflect this architectural history. With the small footprint and limited budget, our concept was to create a super-insulated house organized around a central core. This condensed mechanical and utilities and eliminated most partition walls, and visually opened up the compact interior.

super insulated wall / core exterior view facing south massing study precedents

16� super insulated roof provides a calculated R70

air supply provides for living areas air return removes air from bathroom/kitchen

18� super insulated walls provide a calculated R67

energy recovery ventilator

solar hot water domestic hot water hydronic piping

2 materials and methods This was a precedent study of the University of Minnesota Boathouse to help understand the structural system and construction methods used. The project called for a series of detail drawings and one 1:16 scale model. We were particularly interested in how this structure worked with the program to define the space. The building as four large bays on the first floor for storing rowing shells, while workout space, offices and locker rooms are located on the second floor. The design is basically a concrete masonry base with HSS columns and exposed glulam beams framing the upper floor. The system worked with the ‘subtractive’ massing of the building, and allowed window placement to be driven by compositional considerations instead of utilitarian.

massing / structure diagram as built photos

lapped cedar siding furring strips wood sheathing rigid insulation glulam beam hollow structural steel column light gauge steel stud backup wall


topper slab precast slab

cmu veneer air space wall tie rigid insulation cmu backup wall

rigid insulation slab on grade poured concrete footing wall section 1:16 scale model section

membrane rigid insulation

galvanized metal trim termination bar

wood sheathing

continuous membrane from sloped to flat roof cant & roof flashing


slip track

wood blocking steel t beam

movement joint movement joint

We chose our model section primarily to show the usage of the HSS and glulam members, which are highlights of the structural system. The section also served to indicate how the cantilever deck is tied into the building, as well how the system deals with multiple window conditions.

bent metal plate gypsum board

3 pocket park This studio I project was an exploration into design derived from materials and methods. Starting with photographs of the site, we used MDF models to abstract the positive and negative space. These models were then used to form a path. We were then given a site in the Cedar Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis. Our MDF path was again abstracted in plaster models, then scaled to fit into the site. Bristol board was introduced to further articulate the mass, void and planes, creating a path through the site. Further programmatic issues were introduced and incorporated into the design, including a bus stop, indoor community center and an additional outdoor gathering space.

I was primarily interested in controlling how overhead planes and transition spaces related to human body. Texture, expansion, and compression were themes thoroughly explored through the project. My final proposal was formed by starting with plaster slab, which was pushed and pulled to articulate mass and void. The deposition of mass created bathroom areas and a pedestal for the overhead plane to rest on. Bristol was added to divide and articulate the space, and structure was added in the form of museum board ribs which ran along a grid to create a grain running through the model. The eroded center received the community center, which respected the grain of the structure by remaining transparent in the longitudinal direction, while opaque in the transverse.


erode + deposit


grain structure

4 cantilever This was a design thinking project where the goal was to create a cantilever out of playing cards, 18� in length, which could support a tennis ball on the end. No glue, staples or fasteners were allowed in the creation of the cantilever, only folding and cutting action was permitted. After the successful demonstration of the cantilever, we explored various modes of representation to accurately describe a segment of our cantilever through orthographic projection, axonometric and exploded axonometric drawings.

5 places for learning This studio was centered around the concept of program, specifically places of learning. We began our exploration through sketches and small vignette models which established our preconceptions and assumptions about what was important for spaces for learning. Through observation studies at local elementary schools, I observed that students did not differentiate between classroom or hallway spaces. I was interested in allowing this idea to change my preconception of the classroom, and design something that facilitated this usage.

vignette sketch models initial assumptions/preconceptions

fabric dropped ceiling brings scale of room down to child natural lighting

oversized stair provides flexible spaces for group or solo work

shared community space

textured surfaces to deinstitutionalize interior

Because children treated the entire school as a classroom, I wanted to create a hierarchy of zones in which different size activities could occur, ranging from solo or small group work, to whole class gatherings, to transition areas for movement through the school. By dissolving the walls into a thin columns, the design creates a space which can be formed by the furniture as the specific teacher sees fit, instead of the architect imposing their ideology on some education system.

gym day lighting studies

user defined zones for learning

6 juxtaposition arts The focus of this studio was site. We were tasked with analyzing a portion of Minneapolis to identity a self contained urban fragment. My fragment below is bounded in three direction by a highway, railroad trench, and a continuous street wall which disconnects it from its surrounding neighborhoods. We then selected an appropriate site for an urban arts facility. The site provided the opportunity to serve as “gateway� to the neighborhood, as well as establish site lines to downtown Minneapolis, with the goal of increasing the connectivity of the fragment to its larger context.

limited physical access points sight lines to downtown skyline suggests opportunity for visual connectivity

location of fragment in respect to downtown Minneapolis

“wall of traffic� further disconnects passage across main bordering avenue map of graffiti contained within fragment porosity of street wall indicated by building heights and gaps between buildings

The facility is made up of three main components: a black box theater, gallery/installation space, and educational art studios for youth programs. All support program was grouped into a structure which reflected the materials present nearby, while the primary program was articulated to be distinctly different from this “poché.” The translucent facade around the gallery and education space both provides an indication of activity and structure to the exterior while at the same time acts as a screen for which artistic exploration can pursued without putting a spot light on their every move.

site dimensions imply dual axes predominant facade orientation

“base� reflects fabric of North Loop

insert inward looking black box orient along second axis

wrap insert transparent gallery/studio space


Selected work from my undergraduate time at the University of Minnesota