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Romy Vargas MORGAN :D

C.C.S.F. ARCH 102 Chandler


Insights The objective is to create nine 6� square line drawings that capture the essence of the site that is chosen from a list of San Francisco landmarks. It is ideal to include drawings that represent snapshots as well as photographs. I decided to do my line drawings of the M. H. de Young Memorial Museum due to its outstanding surface area primarily covered in copper. Having never done a line drawing before, the challenges arose trying to represent small significant details of the building without compromising the integrity of the building. The goal was to capture significant qualities of the building and capture those qualities with implied lines.

Issues It became confusing and convoluted after a while trying to create curvilinear shapes out of smaller lines without accidentally outlining the shape. I was also so busy trying to capture the exterior qualities of the building, that I didn’t think to go inside and truly experience it as a whole. Sadly, two of my drawings were stolen with other student work and could not be photographed.


SITE A pedestrian bridge that spanned a remote gorge has failed over The Gorge and cut off a popular hiking trail. The regional government has decided that it wants to rebuild the bridge and add an overnight facility for hikers. The site is located in a remote temperate climate zone which allows for warm days and cool nights. The geography is red rock such as you would find in the American Southwest. The topography is primarily defined by a relatively flat rocky tableau with The Gorge cutting through the rocky plain.

PROGRAM The client is looking for the following functional requirements: • A bridge to connect the two sides of The Gorge • Overnight facility • Outdoor covered commons area: to accommodate 30-50 hikers with a fire pit • One private lookout that is isolated visually and acoustically; it may or may not be covered and should be designed for one person • A secure backpack storage area: square feet • Wood storage: 200 square feet • Restroom facilities with 4 composting toilet rooms and four sinks in a common area 200 square feet • Overflow area to accommodate any additional hikers who could not fit into the sleeping room. This area is designated for setting up tents. Helicopter landing pad for emergencies and major maintenance/ materials delivery; it is not for commercial purposes.


Insights The gestural model is an exploration of the gorge and the surrounding site. It should abstractly represent a characteristic of the site that I find most appealing. My intention is to capture elements of the river in the gorge. The basswood is the chosen material due to its organic, rigid, and flexible qualities. The sectional bends in the wood continue between the flat planes to convey the movement of the continuous waves between the rigid masculine canyons. The lack of angular features and emphasis of curvilinear direction gives the gesture model feminine qualities that are harmonious and peaceful.

Issues The gesture model is too stylized and simplified to truly capture the essence of a running river, the model is more of a metaphorical cartoon of the river and is biased regarding the nature of a flowing body of water. The mass tons of water forcing its current between two canyons while eroding the river bed are examples of masculine and powerful qualities that were missed opportunities in the design of the gesture model.


Insights The intent of this gestural model is to apply the response from the previous model and evolve the design process. I added qualities of the gorge as a whole and not just the river, I want to represent valuable components of the canyons as well. The primary usage of copper is an intentional ode to the large copper mines in the Southwest and the abundance of the organic element in the soil within and around the gorge. It represents reliability, durability, malleability, and is corrosion resistant. The movement of the copper is sinuous and unpredictable blending effortlessly into the tense mesh skin that is bound to the rhythmic framework. Advanced connections bound by copper wire gives it the sturdy, masculine qualities that lacked in the previous model. Using multiple materials with similar color components creates a unified but complex visual metaphor that extracts qualities from the river and the canyons.

Issues I created a gesture model based on a few of the qualities that can be found in the gorge but ended up creating an abstract model with bridge-like qualities, and right now we are exploring the site, not the potential bridge. Also, the model doesn’t pertain to a specific element of the gorge, it might be too broad and generalized.


Insights The purpose of this gesture model is to focus primarily on site specifications given by the client. I chose to represent the possibilities of the sleeping arrangement for the hikers. A key point to explore is the location of the sleeping room; will it be on or off the bridge and if on the bridge how can I ensure security among the hikers who could potentially be sleeping on the suspended portion of the bridge? The gesture model is composed of knitted twine with wire woven within it to create flexibility that molds and contorts to each individual. It abstractly represents womb-like qualities that are meant to evoke feelings of security and warmth.

Issues The wire that is woven into the twine doesn’t contort the object as successfully as planned and was overlooked during the critique. With feelings of security it could also give feelings of claustrophobia. The science of sleep is more complex and varies greatly amongst every individual. It may be too literal of a design and limits my design process by jumping to the endpoint with personal experience and lack of factual evidence. The research of sleep is key to the development of this portion of the design.


Insights This model is representative of another site specification from the client that is to be explored and tests out the act of steam bending wood which is unfamiliar to my past designs. I shifted my focus to the communal lounge area and through the steam bending process I was able to create an arciform construction that is abstractly connected to the versatility and movement of the spine in resting form from an external observation. Even though the spine is a very complex systematic, organized entity internally, I wanted to incorporate an imprint in the wood that could be reminiscent of the impact of a relaxed body regarding the curvature of the spine.

Issues The design is experimental and lacks complexity and is without a clear connection to the body’s form in the state of relaxation.


Insights This model is an abstract series of plateaus to represent the possible design of the helipad. The wire material can be manipulated quickly to create multiple interconnected frameworks and imply volume. The helipad is significant to the hikers because it is the only way to receive essential supplies and serves as the only lifeline to the bridge in case of an emergency. I initially wanted to incorporate the helipad onto the bridge itself but after class discussion realized the forcible impact and dangers that the landing would be on the bridge.

Issues The helicopter pad is a required but minor feature that is an essential additive component and not an integral portion of the bridge itself. I had to ask myself if I wanted the bridge to work around the design of the helicopter pad or if the helicopter pad should work around the design of the bridge.


Insights The primary focus of these gestural models is the exploration of suspension. The first gesture was a primitive examination of the possibilities of suspension. The copper frame is implanted with several lamp chains that hang in place. The second iteration is a densely sectioned design that has kinetic capabilities and unexpected acoustical elements.


Suspension is commonly incorporated into bridge design which manifests the questions “what does it mean to suspend?” and “is there a difference between suspension and hanging?” Unfortunately, I assumed that the act of hanging was synonymous with suspension but later discovered that suspension is the act of hanging cables or chains that are anchored at both ends.


Insights I’m trying to convey the acoustical qualities of the gorge. Transforming the sound of the running river and surrounding winds to create a visual metaphor. My expression of an acoustic gestural model was inspired by the physical structure and configuration of string instruments. The most notable similarities between complex string instruments and my acoustic gestural model is the repetition of parallel strings of varying lengths. There are multiple levels of complexity with different angels and configurations of parallelism. The bent wood is held taught by the string connections which creates a tension and a symbiotic relationship between the thread and the wood.

Issues The wood cant support enough tension to create sound through the reverberations of the thread.


Insights The goal of this iteration is to strengthen the form of the previous model while further exploring the theme of acoustics, suspension, and interactivity of the gorge and surrounding canyons. I discovered the boundaries and limitations of the aluminum tubing. The aluminum is capable of forming curvilinear shapes but it resists manipulation due to its brittle nature and thin walls. The highlighted features revolve around the tiny aluminum tubing that is suspended between the negative spaces of the bent aluminum and is interactive.

Issues The aluminum has a tortured appearance due to the kinks and breaks that occurred during the manipulation process. I didn’t listen to my materials and abandoned the wood instead of combining the three materials in a balanced unity.


Insights This gesture model is an attempt to bring together the metal, wood and aluminum and create a harmonious design without abandoning the materials but evolving them. The aluminum flashing is reliant upon the linear wood spears to hold its form creating a juxtaposition between the straight wood and arched aluminum flashing. The thread is sewn into the flashing and connects to a single wooden spear which binds the wood to the metal.

Issues The gesture model is focused more on the use of materials instead of its relation to the gorge and the hikers. The model is almost a completely different gesture instead of a progression and possibly a weak strategy to form relationships between the materials.


Insights I need to focus on the larger picture and grab inspiration from the hikers and the gorge as well as the location in the American Southwest. In an attempt to explore the uneven planes that are inherent to the gorge, I responded with a plateau based gestural model. The aluminum is folded into triangular repetitious shapes of even measurements giving the gesture a sense of uniformity. Some of the faces are perforated to allow the wood to circulate through the triangular planes.

Issues The model is two directional and over emphasis linear direction which constrains the design to one direction and limits creative possibilities.


Insights To expand the dimensions and directions of this model, I used a tube-based connection system to combine multiple folded aluminum components, this was a breakthrough in the level of craft of my connections. The connections bridge the gap effectively between the metal and the wood. The curvilinear wood strips connect harmoniously to the folded aluminum. The tube connections are small, cylindrical sections of aluminum piping. By cutting small slits in the top and bottom of each tube with a jewelers saw I was able to slide the thin aluminum and the wooden strips to fit into respective sides of the connection. This model features two types of negative space: small circles as well as one large triangular window. The purpose of this negative space it to increase the visibility of the center of the model.

Issues The iteration is too condensed, and is too centralized. The folds in the aluminum should start to open up and expand to create more interior space


Insights In an attempt to continue my advancement in connection engineering, I introduced long tubes of copper with rivets on each end. Through this strategy I connected two sections of angular aluminum across a larger gap. The solid symmetrical planes have been broken down into smaller units that are linked by copper versions of the split tube connection. The model is no longer structured around two intersecting folded aluminum units, instead the space is opened up by directing small groups of triangular sections in a nonlinear direction.

Issues The curvilinear qualities were lost in this iteration, without any curves the iteration looks sharp and unwelcoming. I removed triangular sections from some of the aluminum planes however the planes only served as decoration and did not add to the design.


Insights This iteration is an expression of the extraterrestrial qualities of the site. Extraterrestrial in this context refers to the galactic exploration that hikers in the desert experience at night. The moon and the constellations become the primary light source and have been an essential navigational system for ancient civilizations. I wanted to express a futuristic abstraction in design that would relate to the galactic atmosphere that is emphasized in the desert at night. The main material is steel plated with copper, the steel has been connected using an extended copper tube with rivets and spaced with a hollow aluminum column which exposes the coper interior through gaps in the aluminum column. Wax is also implemented as a connector between the copper plated steel planes.

Issues The main issue with this iteration was it’s stability. It is not structurally sound and wax is by nature a temporal substance, the steel was not kept in place and as a result fell apart when held.


Insights This iteration was a return to the tried and true materials that I had deviated from in the 14th iteration. Copper is used to marry the aluminum flashing and wood strips. Curving and folding the aluminum flashing resulted in several transitions between the two styles in one material.

Issues This iteration is larger in scale and too expansive. The design would be more effective if it were less chaotic and continuous.


Insights This iteration has more compact curves in a unified way, the curves are unpredictable yet balanced. Only two materials are used, copper, being functional as a connector and flashing being the main design material. Each curved section flows into the next and there are no jerky transitions between the sections of curves. The curves create open and closed spaces that alternate and share sides. Not using wood allowed me to expand and focus on the versatility of the aluminum flashing.

Issues The design could be improved by creating different widths of flashing for curved sections and to find creative solutions for the inclusion of negative spaces.


Insights This iteration is a site specific response to the private lookout designed for one person in the overnight facility as outlined by the client. To achieve a personal space in this model I chose to create semi enclosed areas by expanding the heavy emphasis on curved shapes found in previous models. The curvature of the aluminum spirals in various directions to for isolated private lookouts. The wood and aluminum are moving more toward equality and sharing the same design than has been accomplished in previous models.

Issues In the large picture of bridge formations this model lacks verticality and the ability to escape from its flat, horizontally emphasized design.

RESEARCH The Hikers Guide to the Galaxy During the day the hikers are exploring the Earth and the natural formations that are billions of years old but why should the exploration stop at night. The hikers should be able to explore the final frontier and learn ways to navigate using the constellations in case of an emergency. The American Southwest at nightfall yields unobstructed views of the constellations and planets that can be seen to the naked eye.

Navigation with the Stars In order to tell direction with the stars you need to have a relatively clear sky. To find true north and south you need to know what to look for. In the Northern Hemisphere, Polaris (the North Star) always appears in the direction of true north not magnetic north. True north is a constant and refers to the geographic location of the North Pole. Magnetic north tends to shift and refers to the pole of the Earth’s magnetic field. In mid 2002, true north and magnetic north were approximately 590 miles apart. The easiest way to find Polaris is to first find the Big Dipper. If you face Polaris, you will be facing almost exactly true north. It helps to imagine a perpendicular line to the horizon running up to the star. The reason the North Star is so important for natural navigation is that it sits directly over the North Pole. Something people often forget is that whenever you are trying to to find true north, you are actually trying to find th direction of the North Pole from wherever you are--even if you are only heading a few miles on a small hike. The constellation, Cassiopeia, is also very helpful in finding the North Star as it will always be on the opposite side of the North Star from The Plough aka The Big Dipper and therefore often high in the sky when The Plough is low or obscured. The height of the North Star is also helpful to estimate your location in the Northern Hemisphere. Wherever you are in the Norther Hemisphere, the North star will be the same angle above the horizon as your latitude. Latitude is the angular distance of a place that is north or south of the Earth’s equator, usually expressed in degrees and minutes. This can me measures using an outstretched fist. A sextant is an instrument used to measure the angle between the two visible objects. Its primary use is to determine the angle between a celestial object and the horizon. Although humans vary in size, we share proportions and an outstretched fist makes an angle close to 10 degrees for most people. The constellation Orion, rises in the east and sets in the west. Orion’s belt, the only three bright stars that form a straight line in the whole night sky rise very close to due east and set very close to due west. If you want to be really accurate then the first star in the belt to rise and set, called Mintaka, will always rise and set within one degree of true east and west wherever you are in the world.

RESEARCH Understanding Stars for Inspiration All stars begin from clouds of cold molecular hydrogen and gravitationally collapse. As the cloud collapses, it fragments into may pieces that will go on to form individual stars. This initial gas was formed during the Big Bang, and is always about 74% hydrogen and 25% helium. The collective gravity of all the mass of a star is pulling inward. If there was nothing to stop it, the star would just continue collapsing for millions of years until it became its smallest possible size; maybe a neutron star. If you could collect all the stars together and put them in piles, the biggest pile, by far, would be the red dwarfs. These are the stars with less than 50% the mass of the Sun. Red dwarfs can even be as small as 7.5% the mass of the Sun. Red dwarfs burn with less than 1/10,000th the energy of the Sun, and can sip away at their fuel for 10 trillion years before running out of hydrogen. The color of stars can range from red to white to blue. Red is the coolest color; thats a star with less than 3,500 Kelvin (Kelvin is the international system of units or SI base unit of thermodynamic temperature, equal in magnitude to the degree Celsius). Light travels at 186,000 miles per second. The time it takes for light from the stars to reach us is the distance to the star divided by this speed. The nearest start to us is the Sun and it takes about 8.3 minutes for its light to reach us here on Earth. Other stars are so much farther away that it is convenient to express the distance to them in light years. A light year is the distance traveled by light in one year. The next closest star to us is Proxima Centauri. This star is 4.3 light years away, which means that the light from it takes 4.3 years to reach us. In a way looking at a star is like looking back into time because the light that is hitting us now may have started a long time ago. For example, since Proxima Centauri is the closest star to us (other than the Sun) the light we see from it now left the star about four years ago. Something catastrophic could have happened to the star within those four years and we cant know about it yet.


Insights The objective is to create a small scale site model with measurements given in class and to create an iteration that interacts with the site model. The curved shapes have compacted in width and the transition from aluminum to wood are achieved more seamlessly. Curve complexity has also increased and the implementation of long copper tube rivets has aided in increasing the stability of the design and limiting the inherent flexibility of the other lighter materials.

Issues The iteration does not integrate well between the plateaus of the site model and the weight of the iteration does suggest stability overall in terms.



Insights The objective is to create a small abstract iteration on a small site (not to scale) based on sectional drawings and previous iterations. I tried to capture the essence of the section drawings and capture the features I feel will evolve in future designs. The iteration is composed of a singular linear strip that transitions from wood to aluminum in a loop formation. The strip is held together and supported by a series of parallel rivet connections made of both wood and copper. There is a repetition of circular holes throughout the iteration that has a greater emphasis due to the inclusion of a single magnified circular window.

Issues The small scale site is not representative to the actual site and poses as an abstract version of the gorge. There isn’t a large height difference between the two plateaus which inhibits the verticality of the gesture model.





Midterm Summary This semester has proven to be a challenge for me because I am so used to receiving definitive instructions regarding the assignments. Creating my own solutions to ambiguous direction left me feeling inadequate at first, but diving into the design process and establishing my style and design objectives became essential for progression. I found myself creating new models and starting over because I was too critical of my work and I wasn’t focusing on the designs that existed. Once I looked to the physical models which hold the inspiration for the next iteration, I was able to evolve my iterations in a concise direction. I find that building a design narrative or focusing on what I wanted the bridge to be about helped bring direction to my models instead of designing aimlessly without relation to the program. My goal is to further develop my design language and increase the quality of my designs by organizing my creative process with discipline.

Section Drawings

Section Drawings

Iteration 20

Insights We continued the section drawings in class and analyzed an aspect of what we had done. Our previous sections consisted of gesture drawings on a site, but the problem with gesture models is that they don’t have knowledge of site so by definition it cannot be architecture even if gesture models have architectural qualities. At this point in time we started to add more structural qualities to the section drawings and shaded or colored in areas that could contain programmatic elements. We incorporated lines of force as a strategy to incorporate plan drawings as well as explore the implications of the gorge. Our goal was to create a new model at 1/16� scale that incorporates the essence of our previous gesture models as well as programmatic responses to the site that were formed in our latest section drawings. Since my bridge is really about the night sky in the American Southwest I decided to create and entrance that faces true north in order to capture Polaris, the North Star. I created a general idea of where the community space would be on the second level as well as a sleeping space on the third level. Something I didn’t take from the program is the room for personal introspection/ meditation that comes out from the bridge and over the gorge its face is made from copper.


I lost some of the curvilinear elements of my gesture model while trying to transition to a more structurally sound model. The holes in my model represented a new concept for sustainable wind energy, the holes were meant to contain wind turbines but the idea was under developed and took over my whole project. I need to remember that my main concept consists of the stars and not the wind. Questions to ask myself: how do I bring the sky to my bridge?

Plan and Section

Plan and Section

Plan and Section

Iteration 21


The next step was to revise our last iteration, but for me it was to try to capture the sky in the bridge and add site specific details to the bridge. I chose to create the entrance out of copper that would anchor to the side of the gorge and serve as an ode to the abundance of copper in the American Southwest. I created a sleeping area with a glass covering that would allow the hikers to view the stars on a clear night but shelter them as well for rainy days.


The main issues arising from this iteration consist of the lack of programmatic elements such as the community space. The ability to move from the higher plateau to the lower plateau is unresolved and it still lacks the full concept of the night sky. Another concern is that it looks like a completely new model and not a clear transition from the previous iteration.

Iteration 22


For this new iteration I definitely wanted to bring more comlpexity to the design and express the galactic qualitites I have been trying to grasp in previous models. Since the anchors on the plateaus really gives the bridge site specificity, I decided to maintain that part of my design as well as the sleeping area and meditative space. The most obvious new component is this triangular viewing tower for hikers to really enjoy the views of the gorge during the day and stargaze at nightfall. The bridge has an option to bypass the multiuse properties of the bridge for hikers who want to continue hiking.


This model was a huge move from the previous models but not necessarily an effective move. The tower has verticality but doesn’t capture the sky and is mainly viewed as an attempt to solving a problem that falls flat. The tower sort of pollutes the sky instead of working with it. Another issue that came up was the idea of gravity and how I need to create better structual solutions to hold up a bridge of this magnitude between the two plateaus.

Iteration 23


For this iteration I created this concept of a mirrored floor that was inspired by the heliostat on the Golden Gate Bridge (link below): I actually learned how to cut glass for this bridge to make a sky deck. The idea is that on a clear night in the desert a hiker can stand on the sky deck and have no other surrounding views but the stars. The stars will reflect off of the mirror and give the effect of floating in the cosmos. I also created sleeping cells on the lowest level of the bridge as well as wooden anchors for a more structurally engineered bridge.


The mirrored floor concept is intriguing but I need to develop three levels of thinking regarding the mirrored floor and not just an easy solution to capturing the sky. As far as the rest of the bridge I shouldn’t give up architecture for functional resolution which seems to be the case with the sleeping cells since I changed the curvved wall space from the sleeping area into the community area. I also lost the anchors that grabbed the plateaus which were powerful in my previous iterations.

Plan and Section

Plan and Section

Plan and Section

Iteration 24


The mirrored floor slowly transitioned into a mirrored bridge with the idea that the bridge will reflect the surrounding redrock and as well as the sky and limit the visual Pollution that man made structures may give off. Hikers are here to enjoy the terrain in a very pure state that hasnt been built on with buildings and skyscrapers. The last thing I want is to create a building on a natural environment that sticks out like a sore thumb. At the same time Im hoping that during the day the reflective qualities of the bridge will give off a powerful bright celestial aura. The reflectivity should be seen for miles away so if anyone is lost they can find safety within reach. At night the mirrored floor remains above the community enclosure and can be experienced by the hikers who will be submerged within the cosmos. I kept the multiuse aspects of the bridge available to those who want to experience it and for those who don’t want to can continue to pass through. Something that I added that wasnt in the previous iterations was the idea of having the sleeping area next to the exit anchor so that there is a little more balance between the plateaus of the gorge.


I need to resolve the issue of gravity by possibly making the top entity a cantilever. If I choose to do a final bridge i need to commit fully with my design and stop making so many “beginning� iterations, I need to just stick with this iteration concept and develop it. Since people tend to freak out and make a totally new shift before the semesters ending critique, I should find a way to not succumb to that since I have been doing it all semester, now is the time to focus!

Plan and Section

Plan and Section

Iteration 25


My final iteration for arch 102 really is a progression from my previous model. In my drawings I created an entrace that anchors to the sky and the Earth and frames Polaris while facing True North. As you walk up the ramp you reach the community space which contains an enclosed space with a view for one person, followed by the enclosed sleeping area, and above the sleeping area is a ramp that leads to the star deck. The difference between this star deck and the previous ones is the two additional mirrored wings on either side will truely eliminate any views other than the galaxy. Going back to the entrace there is another ramp that leads to the lower plateau, its the actually bridging of the gorge. At the exit of the lower plateau is the copper anchor that grabs the earth and will age with the red rock.


My main personal issue with this iteration is the technical difficulties I faced. In the drawing the copper anchors to the Earth and rises up to hold the upper level of the bridge, but halfway through sawing the copper my jewelers saw broke and i was unable to recreate my last piece which was later replaced with wood. Because the concept was unique and maybe a little ambitious, I definitely needed more research regarding structure and case studies. There was a lot of internal design going on and not enough proof shown on paper to really understand my design process fully.

Final Statement

Reflection My whole design process was all over the map this semester and heavily fragmented due to my unsatisfied feelings toward my designs, and trying to capture something in my models and drawings that I couldn’t physically explore. The idea of bringing the cosmos to the bridge was the most challenging aspect of my process. I feel that my breakthrough moment came when I started developing the mirrored sky deck. My designs may not have been so smooth in transition but i feel that at the last class meeting I was able to fully express what my design concept was and what I was trying to bring to the bridge, the gorge, and the hikers. When I was told at the end to focus and develop my last two bridges that’s when I felt true commitment to to the bridge and I finally had confidence in my designs instead of switching it up again and creating a new “beginning” iteration. Being told that my design could win a competition but never get built gave me reassurance in myself as a designer. My design was definitely more conceptual considering it would probably be really dangerous to build, but that was an exciting part of this project. I was able to create something that is ambitious in an undisclosed location in the American Southwest where money is no obstacle for this bridge: architecture school is the only time I would be able to do something like this and I’m going to enjoy it while I can. Arch 102 was really valuable for me to understand that there is something good in my designs, and that I shouldn’t throw away an idea without really exploring it because chances are its not going to Fail. Developing that kind of discipline in my design process felt unattainable until the last few class meetings. I understand now that if I stand behind my work in its iterative stages others will too. This was a great experience and I hope to bring what I have learned to my final design studio at CCSF.

final portfolio  

final portfolio arch 102

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