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Preston Welker


This book represents a collection of concept-driven design projects accumulated over the past three years while pursuing a Master of Architecture Degree at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Included are projects of var ying scales and programs, created through a broad range of unique design strategies. The goal of this book is to demonstrate a design sensibility that is diverse, yet focused on the manipulation of scale in the design discourse. The chosen works explore the idea of scalelessness in four realms: the Element, the Diagram, the Experience, and the Urban. Scalelessness is an unreal concept about scale in which relativity does not exist. It is a way of exploring the possibilities present in misinterpretation, by misrepresentation or intentional implications in architecture and design. This is most commonly achieved through the graphic; a visual representation of an idea with potential to be materialized. Scalelessness offers a complex ambiguity that must be explored, embraced, and exploited. It suggests an emerging theor y of real and abstract, familiar and unfamiliar, objective and subjective; it begs to be mined for untapped potentials.






The Fundamentals of Architecture Fall 2013 Catalog Paul Preissner

Fundamental House Fall 2013 House Paul Preissner

The Archive Fall 2015 Museum of Knowledge Jose Oubrerie




Beautiful Field Summer 2015 Furniture Self-Motivated

Tree’s Company Fall 2014 House Grant Gibson / Penelope Dean

Chi-CADE Summer 2015 CAF Headquarters Chi-Design Competition






Myth Spring 2014 Installation Molly Hunker

Case Study Charrettes Fall 2013 Pavilion Lluis Ortega

Creteur Antecedent w/ Danny Travis Fall 2013 Furniture Molly Hunker




Swing Theor y Spring 2014 Concert Pavilion 120 Hours Competition

Culture of House Spring 2014 Cultural Center Stewart Hicks

Chi Massif Spring 2015 Hospital, Hotel, Recreation Facility Sarah Dunn / Sean Lally

Creteur Selected Photography and Supplementary Works Acknolwedgements CV


128 144 170 172




This study of “The Fundamentals of Architecture” originated from the supposition that all architecture can be reduced to a finite catalog of primitive elements. These elements, in their simplest states, can be described as planes, corners and opening. There are five fundamental plane types: parallel, half slope, full slope, pitch/inverted-pitch, and offset. There are four fundamental corner types: corners formed by a single line, an infinite amount of lines, an implied corner and a corner resulting in a surface. There are four fundamental openings: opening intersecting a single edge, no edges, multiple edges and a perforated surface. Furthermore, these elements can be fundamentally “modified” to create stylistic variations. Possible modifications include orientation, mass, modularity, scale and twist. As a reduced understanding of architecture, this fundamental exploration is intended to prompt a new understanding of architecture in its simplest form, allowing us to see the beauty in every plane, corner and opening. In keeping with this exploration, it can be believed that every building can be fundamentally reduced to a combination of these elements. Through combining and modifying, over 8,000 fundamental combinations are possible.

This study was based on the assumption that every work of architecture can be reduced to a set of fundamental elements.



This Fundamental House focuses on the application of the fundamental elements to create a formally irreducible and “ideal� house. Through a very straight-forward approach to shape and form, each program of the house is associated with a particular sectional quality. Using the catalogue of fundamental elements and combinations, each space or pair of spaces is assigned a form. These forms and combinations were then assembled in order to create the ideal house. As a result of the direct application and intersection of the chosen forms, new relationships begin to emerge. The resulting sectional qualities of the combinations create unexpected opportunities. The simplicity of each individual shape allows for a beautiful complexity to result form their merger. The goal was not to develop a fully refined or resolved house, but to create a house that is fundamentally ideal, formally simplistic, and spatially interesting.

The house was formed by merging fundamental sectional conditions, creating many opportunities for natural light and outward views of the landscape.



The Museum of Knowledge was designed as a new landmark for Chandigarh, symbolizing the power of knowledge in the 21st centur y. Le Corbusier conceptualized the master plan of Chandigarh as a metaphor for the human body; the arms were the academic and leisure facilities, the heart was the commercial center, and the head contained the capitol complex. His metaphor remains relevant, as this Museum of Knowledge becomes the center point of the capitol complex. The interior forms were inspired by Le Corbusier’s metaphor, and the idea of this site representing a growing, living museum of knowledge. The wall becomes the negotiator and protector, a fortress, allowing this new museum typology to exist within the context. The wall provides structure, circulation, and service areas, and also frames the Himalayas along its linear progression. This project re-imagines Le Corbusier’s ideas of part-to-whole organization, inverting his strategies to create a new contextual and contemporary typology. The juxtaposition between the concrete shell and the lustrous green innards creates a very powerful and phenomenal threshold between the existing site and the new building. The ground becomes activated with a strong visual relationship to the cantilevered programs overhead. The building is organized in a linear sequence of knowledge exchange. The highest point of the building is assigned to the discovery of knowledge; the Research facilities. The middle of the building split by the main points of entry is the place where knowledge is consumed and experienced; consumption of knowledge. This area includes Social & Leisure facilities including a theatre and planetarium. The foundation of the building is where knowledge is spread; the education wing. Finally, continuing into the ground below is the Museum of History where knowledge is preserved for future generations. Overall, the form and organization of this Museum of Knowledge enable it to act in itself as a display case of knowledge that relates to its surroundings while introducing a new typology of contemporar y significance.

In this drawing, The Archive has been collaged into the original site plan of the Capitol Complex of Chandigarh, India, drawn by the studio of Le Corbusier.

The threshold created by the cantilevered mass presents a moment of astonishment, as the lustrous innerds are revealed within the concrete monolithe.

Left Top: Research Center interior view. Right Top: Gallery and Exhibition Spaces. Bottom: Plan at +15 Meters.

Physical Model constructed with corrugated cardboard and steel wire mesh, Scale 1/8” = 1’-0”.




A Beautiful Field was conceived through the re-scaling of the architectural diagram of a previous project (Tree’s Company, Fall 2014). The goal was to prove the scalelessness of the architectural diagram, by creating a furniture piece with the same formal ambitions. Beautiful Field is made up of two component types: boxes and legs. Each box is perforated on all sides in an evenly spaced grid. The legs are round extrusions available in a number of lengths. Because of the number of perforations and various leg dimensions, a Beautiful Field can exist in any desired configuration. The intention is for the legs to extend vertically through every box above, creating a new type of leg-to-body relationship. The legs have a visual density that allows them to be understood as there own element, working in conjunction with the boxes that appear to float within them.



This project explores the potential of an exaggerated sub-scape below furniture that focuses on the relationship between furniture and ground. This exploration, when placed in the context of the site, allows for a seemingly untouched landscape. By lifting the furniture into the canopy and extruding the furniture legs to meet the forest floor, a new volume below the furniture is created, revealing a typically unseen feature of the furniture, the underside, as a new type of ceiling. Approaching the house, one moves through a hybrid forest of existing trees and furniture legs. Among the forest floor, in spaces created by the legs of standing furniture, artificial ground cover interrupt the natural undergrowth, becoming a type of dĂŠcor, and creating pockets of activity inhabited by creature-like furniture pieces. Through this series of simple moves, two worlds are established within the site; the forest floor and the canopy. The canopy, created initially by a field of tall standing furniture, becomes an array of highly reflective cubes that blur the boundar y between artificial and natural enclosure. Although they serve as enclosure, the cubes allow the furniture to break through the floor, revealing their undersides to the forest floor. The cubic volumes appear as a mirage in the canopy, solely supported by the furniture (legs) they enclose. The floor of the cubes serve as built-in storage, as well as house specific amenities, freeing vertical surfaces for panoramic viewing. This new approach to housing design aims to create a sense of escape from the everyday world. The canopy provides privacy and a level intimacy within a naturalistic setting.

This house was designed from the inside out, beginning with the furniture and ending with the envelope. The legs of the furniture serve as the structure.

The image on the left shows the hydrolic lift that connects the forest loor to the house above. The open lift is the primary mode of vertical circulation.

The relective glass enclosures allow the loating house to disappear within the canopy. The furniture legs are the only non-relective external inish.



Chi-CADE is a work of architecture for architecture, providing over 200,000 square feet of space allocated to the creativity of the Chicago community and its visitors. This Center for Architecture, Design & Education is not meant to focus solely on Chicago architecture, but represent the entire world of architecture; past, present and future. The Column is one the most diversely understood components of architecture around the world, and the driving force behind this design concept. The ultimate goal of this project is to establish a cultural initiative within the city of Chicago that expands the understanding of World Architecture and Design beyond its contributors, using the column as a device. Arranged on a gridded site, the columns are responsible for all vertical exchanges, be they forces, movement, or utility. The column never pretends to be something else. It simply takes on more responsibility, while maintaining its identity. It is structure, utility, circulation, and void; but always a column. The buildings form is inspired by the potential to re-imagine the scale of an urban environment. Floating masses remain formally ambiguous, but maintain their individuality. Each floating mass represents a new urban interior with an internal focus on educating the community. The space created between the objects provides a community landscape complete with gardens, observation areas, and exhibition spaces.

ChiDesign International Competition: Short-Listed. Among other’s Short-Listed Atelier 2B, Brininstool + Lynch, Monadnock, Perkins + Will, and others.

The columns and grid are the architectural focus of this project. They divide space, house vertical circulation, and provide structural support.




Molly Hunker’s fellowship research during the 2013–2014 academic year has centered on kitsch artifacts and their potential to recalibrate contemporary notions of atmosphere and engagement. Hunker’s culminating fellowship project, Myth, focuses speciically on the religious genre of the home shrine, re-imagining the richly decorative and kitsch assembly through the lens of the architectural installation. Myth uses the decorative prayer candle as the primary object-tradition through which to explore how home shrines may provoke new understandings of visual and atmospheric opulence in the architectural interior. Made with traditional candle-making techniques, hundreds of handmade wax candles are suspended on embedded cotton wicks, accumulating to create a semi-enclosed chromaphilic space. While the overhead candles are geometrically simple and clean, the candles closer to the ground are increasingly articulated with a grotesque rustication captured during the transformation of the material from its liquid state to its solid state. This rustication technique partners with a gradient of increasing color saturation to engage with the traditional shrine organization that establishes a narrative describing the change between heaven and earth. Contemporary expressions of religious architecture tend to reinforce a clean, open-minded spatial construct that leaves the spiritual narrative to be deined by each visitor’s imagination and beliefs (however rich or bland those may be). Instead, Myth aims to establish a space of greater emotional and spiritual resonance by employing familiar materials, crafts and even smells present in more common devotional spaces.

The gradation from grotesque forms below to smooth forms above represents a metaphorical transition from earthly (Terrestrial) to heavenly (celestial).

Following the installation at The University of Illinois at Chicago, Myth was donated to the Chicago Design Museum where it is currently on display.

All photography credit to Wallo Villacorta.



The Transglass Pavilion was inluenced by the works of SANAA, speciically the Toledo Glass Museum. Similar to the Glass Museum, this pavilion incorporates loor to ceiling glass walls that create a semi transparent layering effect. Between each layer of seamless, solid glass panels is a three foot gap that allows people to move through the building in one direction while following the cutout circulation in the other direction. The offset panels also create two different visual experiences depending on the viewer location. The structural make up of the pavilion is very similar to that of the Glass Pavilion. The vertical supports are circular steel tubes that are covered by prefabricated GFRC shells. The shells provided a visual connection between the loor plate and the ceiling. This allows the two individual planes to appear as a continuous surface in an array of glass planes. In the SkyTree Pavilion, one has the ability and freedom to experience a connection with the sky. Similar to the Gothic Cathedrals of the 16th century, the careful use of proportion and scale allow a person to feel fully engulfed in light and warmth. The unique shape and varied perforation of each prefabricated piece creates a different combined experience. The creation of these vertical environments act in several different scales while appearing to support the sky above. At the ground level, one experiences a threshold from darkness, created by the canopy of several skyTrees overhead, into lightness observed within the pavilion. Upon moving through these masses to the center of the pavilion, the boundaries of earth and sky become blurred. The boundary between natural and man-made disappear. Large amounts of natural light are channeled into the hollow center, creating an overwhelming experience unforeseen from the exterior. Through the implementation of form, perforation, and materiality, each skyTree represents a completely unique interaction with the sky. The assortment of several structures allows one to move freely about the site, carefree and unaware, of the magniicence that lies within each individual skyTree. As perhaps the most quintessential architectural unit of construction, the brick can take many forms. Throughout history, many attempts have been made to reinvent the brick, as a structural unit, and as a veneer. One thing that has remained constant is the orthogonal application of the brick. However, inventors like Greg Lynn have since questioned this organization and sought to discover new methods. New forms and materials have also entered the conversation. Although attempts like Lynn’s have, in fact, been successful and advantageous to the ield of architecture, they lack the simplicity of the standard brick. The easily measured and constructed unit, as well as the versatility of stacking these units has been lost. These new explorations limit the architectural form to a time consuming, predesigned arrangement. It has been our goal to create a brick that can, like the Blob Wall, create interesting shapes and forms, while maintaining some fundamental characteristics of the typical brick. The FiberDuck is designed with the capability to be moved long distances on water. The two, interlocking forms were developed, irst as a single form or mass, and second as independent parts to the whole. After forming initial moves to create and limit movement through the void, the parts were split to concentrate on their individual purposes. The lower object is designed directionally to allow movement of water and boats through the space. It is also formed to create a boat-like relationship to the water, accounting for movement and providing maximum space for foam illed voids. The top mass is designed to rest on and interlock with the lower mass in “Boat Mode.” It is also designed to provide a series of focused views, depending on orientation designated by the site in which it is placed. The structure is made up of a light steel contour grid !lled with foam and coated in a layer of Fiberglass & rubber slip resistant coating.

The Transglass pavilion was inluenced by the works of SANAA, and uses parallel panes of glass to create a layering of translucency.

The SkyTree Pavilion was designed to create an internal experience focused around light and warmth.

The Octahedra design is a re-imagining of the standard brick. The form allows for more possible stacking methods and can be made with lighter materials.

The FiberDuck was designed as a moveable pavilion suspended under any bridge. The two surfaces are arranged for desired interactions.



Creteur is an exploration of animate form through the manipulation of fabric-form casted concrete. Each Creteur is designed independently to portray a desired personality through its animal-like posture and through the use of particular fabrics to achieve a desired texture. The material contrast and fabric-textured concrete create a unique juxtaposition between implied and literal softness. Creteur is beautiful and grotesque, animate while static, projecting character throughout its environment. This prototypical study envisions these Creteur’s as furniture/functional art, but the concept encompasses many more possibilities. The combination of grotesque and cute are prevalent in this exploration. The animal-like forms paired with the soft tumors are both inviting and suspicious. The resulting “creteur’s” are a new species that allow us to imagine a world in which they might exist. While this project was imagined as part of a class project, it is our intention to continue exploring the possibilities of fabric formed concrete as it relates to industrial design, as well as its architectural signiicance.

An inner seam is created during the concrete forming process, allowing the cushion to penetrate the concrete body and pull through to below.

Softness and hardness are merged in the creation of every Creteur. They are brought to life with their inherited texture and posture.




The population of Norway has the second highest electrical usage per capita in the world. We propose an alternative method for the production of energy which is both leisurely and easy to participate in. We advocate a new form of sustainability which values having fun and reflecting upon a simpler time in life that is not clouded by responsibility. These values take form in the shape of the swing. For a music festival, a pavilion in which is dedicated to swinging acts as an icon for meeting, as well as a destination for winding down from the busy concert scene. The swings are a way to relax, but also serve as a living diagram to demonstrate sustainable impact for the event space, Norway, and the world at large. Swingers participate in a network which power various lighting features locally, producing a dynamic and otherworldly atmosphere for visitors to witness. The pavilion is a stage comprised of two parts: the farm and the city. At the farm level, the network of swings produce energy which lights the upper level, the city. This effect produces a united network of energy production which literally powers the city above it. At its heart, Swing Theor y is an awareness campaign to show that every individual, by doing their small part, can make a grand impact on the world at large.



Culture of House is a cultural center that takes the shape of a house with legs. Culture of House used the perception of form and scale to symbolize the congregation of the community and highlight the separation between interior and exterior, as well as provide a link between interior programs. Its overall form suggests a gabled roof home that is scaled up and cladded with a ‘cozy’ representative of three urban facades, which respond to scaling that occurs within the building. These Interactions introduce a collision between Urban scale and Domestic, designed to invite people into a world where familiar becomes unhomely. ‘House appears to float above the site, allowing access by way of large front steps leading to performance and exhibition spaces. The library creates an introverted atmosphere that allows a person to find their own place within its tufts. The attic of the house becomes a place of wonder and discovery, where things once forgotten find new life. Culture of House provides an environment for community interaction and the opportunity for self-discovery through a staggered hierarchy of personalized spaces; the objects within a house.



ChiMASSIF is a Megastructure proposal with the goal of creating an experimental and experiential interior urban environment that offers inclusion and exclusion from the surrounding urban context. It introduces a new feature to the landscape that blurs the boundaries between the city and the lake, interior and exterior, and public and private. ChiMassif draws the community towards the lake and the lake towards the community. The program includes a Hospital, Hotel and Spa, as well as an array of public spaces along the internal expanse. The program is organized to create var ying levels of privacy, specificity, and transparency. This strategy optimizes the functions of each main program, and allows the public program to form zones along the continuous interior surface, amplifying the experience of the expansive hyper-conditioned space. By allowing the most specialized of the larger program spaces to form towers, the ground plane is free to facilitate a wide variety of smaller programs open to the public such as retail and restaurants. The building form is created by a system of three surfaces: the ground, the enclosure, and the seam. The seam is an intermediate surface that negotiates between the ground and the enclosure to create pockets of centralized program. This system allows the main programs (Hospital, Hotel, and Spa) to be placed based on their required link to the city and level of enclosure/seclusion. They are then expanded based on their required spatial sequence. Each tower represents a gradient from public to private or immediate to non-immediate from the ground up. The growth of each tower allows them to burst through the structural envelope, deviating from its previous immediate context, revealing the city of Chicago as the preeminent background.

Chi-Massif was designed to blur the line between the city and the lake. It provides a new urban landscape that is experienced in many forms.

The interior of Chi-Massif acts as a city in itself with a number of programmed spaces within the artiicial terrain.



Creteur is an experimental approach to design in which the product possesses zoomorphic qualities and a unique personality through the culmination of texture and posture in a single animate-form. The word “animate” is not to be confused with “motion.” According to Greg Lynn in the book Animate Form, “while motion implies movement and action, animation suggests animalism, animism, evolution, growth, actuation, vitality and virtuality.” Therefore, Creteur is meant to evoke the idea of movement, rather than literal movement, through its form, posture and texture. Each Creteur sculpture inherently possesses two segments: a body and legs. The body is the mass of the overall form, and the root source of its legs, or appendages. Individually, the two parts maintain their specific characteristics but combine to invent a new physique. Posture is the choreographed position of the Creteur; its position in space, and its relationship with the ground. Personality and character are achieved through posture. The positioning of each Creteur determines its attitude and the overall atmosphere of the inhabited space. Posture allows them the ability to completely change the aura of a space. Texture exists everywhere, however, it is rarely manipulated to achieve desired effects outside of comfort or friction. Creteur has the unique ability to address the topic of texture in a way that advances the idea of an animate form, or living “creature.” Creteur presents this dynamism in the high resolution texture present in the flesh, adding to the implications of movement and weight; gravity.

Creteur’s allude to softness, but contradict this notion through materiality. It is an offensive gesture.






I would like to express my gratitude to the University of Illinois at Chicago. I am grateful for the advice and teaching that has allowed me to develop my ideas and design sensibility. I would like to thank the administration and the proffessors who have aided in my creative pursuits. Lastly, I would like to thank my fellow classmates for their comaraderie and friendly competition. Best wishes to all.


Scalelessness + Creteur by Preston Welker

Scalelessness + Creteur by Preston Welker