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ARCHITECTURE Tower House Prefabricated Rural Home Blount County, Tennessee


Haitian Home Home for an Expatriate Retiree Fond-Des-Blancs, Haiti


Center for Ethics Campus Building for Emory University Atlanta, Georgia


Museum of Contemporary Iron Works Mixed use Urban Development Knoxville, Tennessee


OTHER WORKS Plywood Lamp Bent Italian Plywood


Wall Section Study Analysis of Sirch Woodworking Factory


Demarcation Design-Build Concrete Delineation


Samuel David Funari

106 Sutters Mill Lane, Knoxville, TN, 37909

865 253 4880


Tower House Blount County, Tennessee Fall 2011 Professor Edgar Stach


Located near Alcoa Aluminum, this project was meant to serve as an icon of prefabricated, aluminum structures that could be showcased by one of the largest aluminum manufacturers in the country. The goal was to use as many of the existing, offthe-shelf products produced by Alcoa Aluminum and create a sort of “aluminum house�. This solution demonstrates that working from a fixed number of pieces, a kit-of-parts can still yield a highly adaptable structure that is both experientially enjoyable and site-sensitive. The concept of the tower was born from the constraints of the site, which is drastically sloped and adjacent to the shores of the Tennessee River. By using a fixed number of building elements, it would be possible to construct this house from a barge in the river and only have to disturb the site for the four pilings that would support the structure.

The challenges of building a house on this site were daunting. Access to the hill that the Tower House would sit on was non-existant, so a road would need to be carved from the hillside to allow access for the residents. The steep slope lent itself to lifting the house up above the earth and giving it a view of the river. In order to limit the disturbance of the site, it became evident that a tower scheme would provide more benefits than a horizontal one. The entry level, second and third floors all feature floor-to-ceiling glazing that capitalizes on the spectacular views and are still operable to provide cross-ventilation.



The building is organized in plan by three layers. The first zone is the vertical circulation that is purposely pulled away from the rest of the program. This allows for a clear distinction of space and creates a hierarchy within the massing. The next layer is the core that houses all of the bathrooms and the kitchen. This core rises through all three levels and provides a chase between floors as well as added insulation values. The next layer is the living space which has the primary views and also features a balcony at each floor. The entire upper level becomes a roof terrace with panoramic views of the surrounding river and hills as well as space for a garden.


The skin of the building is made of aluminum panels that frame the glass panels. On the southern facade, aluminum brise soleil are used to reduce thermal gain, but still allow uninterrupted views. Due to the unique site conditions that do not allow for a yard, two outdoor levels were used to sit above and below the living space. This maximization of exterior space can be thought of as a new variation on the typologies of front and back yards. One of these spaces could filled with a garden, chairs for sunbathing and children’s toys, while the other can be used for more formal occasions.



Extensive solar studies were performed to ensure efficiency and reduce potential glare from the polished concrete floors. The simple steel framed structure is spanned by open web joists and is highly insulated where possible.


Haitian Home Fond-Des-Blancs, Haiti Spring 2012 Professor John McRae


In collaboration with the Christian Haiti Fund, the University of Tennessee has made extensive efforts towards establishing a rural community in southern Haiti in an effort to decentralize after the devastating earthquake wreaked havoc on the capital city of Port-Au-Prince. This home is one of six typologies explored that would serve to reinvigorate life into a very undervalued, and underdeveloped region in Haiti. This home in particular is designed for a retired ex-patriate, who would return from his residence in the United States. This small concrete structure needed to incorporate most of the amenities an American would be accustomed to, while still being responsive to the Haitian climate and local resources.

The concept of the home was to provide a distinct separation between public and private spaces within the home, since this is of utmost importance in Haitian culture. This diagram shows the living, dining and porch spaces as being more public in nature, while the bedrooms and bathrooms are reserved for the inhabitants. Also, special attention was given to ensure that deep shadows covered the southern facades, which can cause tremendous thermal gain if not properly shaded. To provide cross-ventilation, ventilated concrete masonry units were installed as panels within a structural concrete frame.



This home is one of the few that would actually need a space to park a car, since travel is so limited in Haiti. The porch, which faces the living space and parking is intentionally deep to prevent thermal gain as much as possible and allow for contribution to a vibrant community. Since much of the day of a typical Haitian occurs outdoors in the shade, the porch, opens up through accordion doors into the living and dining space, allowing for year round use. An open kitchen ensures an entertaining-friendly space that could subvert the harmful tradition of groups cooking over clear-cut charcoal, by providing a space where a group could fulfill their duties and still interact.



Center For Ethics Atlanta, Georgia Spring 2010 Professor James Rose


Located adjacent to the Quadrangle in Emory University, this unique site was situated between the iconic Canon Chapel by Paul Rudolph and the infamous Carlos Museum by Michael Graves. This unique position forced a decision to be made to either interrupt the sort of “stare� happening between a Modern classic and a Post-modern masterpiece, or to respect the existing dialogue and build around it. This Center for Ethics was to house a lecture hall, classrooms, offices and residences for three visiting scholars. This program was divided into three separate buildings that would create a common space in between for gathering and discussion, a forum.

The largest portion of program occurs in the classroom building that creates the largest frontage along the forum. The assembly space occurs underground, and the residences cap off the forum. A clock tower was used to anchor the site on the Quad and provide a much needed amenity. Made largely of site-cast concrete, this new development would keep similar massing as the adjacent buildings, but offer a new material and language that would promote public interaction and communication.



To frame the forum, each building had to adhere to the same height and create a surface that had the power to define a volume. The classroom building wraps over the existing bridge that projects from the Canon Chapel in order to define the forum and also provide views and shading.



Museum of Contemporary Iron Works Knoxville, Tennessee Fall 2012 Professor Greg Spaw


Located on a prominent corner of downtown Knoxville, this site would bridge the gap between the bustling downtown neighborhood and Old North neighborhood. This museum would serve the community both as a gallery space and an education space for iron casting, where the displayed would be created. It was crucial to maintain a proper massing of the building that would not destroy the context of downtown. Therefore, the building had to adhere to the height of the surrounding buildings and be as compact as possible, while still allowing nearly 50,000 sf of program.

The proposed site is currently a parking lot that faces an industrialized swathe of land that has separated downtown from north Knoxville for decades. This project is intended to create further development in this area, which is sorely underdeveloped at this time. Being located at the intersection of Gay Street and Jackson Avenue, however, means that this project has significant street frontage along downtown’s busiest street. Because of this, the corner of the mass is carved away to create a grand entrance that is inviting for visitors and would be especially useful during events such as First Friday, when downtown is inundated with people.








One of the primary challenges was to design a building with proper massing that would function extremely well and not intrude on the existing scale of downtown. Because of this, I began with a maximum allowable mass and began to make major design decisions based on the surrounding context, the necessary program, and the phenomenal potential for views to and from the site. Each move was responsive to at least two of these criteria and resulted in a building that works well with a complicated site and whose scale is appropriate. It was a difficult challenge to mediate the curve of the bridge as a potential entry, so, instead, the building offers seating along that edge and the main entry occurs on the short facade along Jackson Avenue. This also helps create a sense of procession within the entry sequence.





By proposing such a compact building, it soon became crucial that the interior spaces were generous and light-filled. Various massing model iterations were produced to find the right balance of usable space and the proper massing. Then, the design process occurred largely in section and in three dimensions. This allowed, not only, interplay of spaces, but also for large moves to be made outside of the floorplan. An atrium that sets up and blocks views based on one’s current location in the museum is a feature that could only fully be thought through in section. In order to accomplish the large cantilever, a 45’ tall truss wraps the perimeter of the building, attaching to the cores at either end, and allowing for a dramatic entry and a street presence that could bring additional visitors and dollars into the museum.


A directing device was used to guide visitors through the four levels of the museum. This device was conceived as an amalgamation of several architectural elements: stair, ceiling, wall and light fixture. This green element winds its way around each level of gallery, highlighting certain exhibits and projecting light where needed. Below the gallery levels are two floor of education space, where the works of iron would be designed and critiqued, before they are produced on the ground level. The iron casting process would occur outdoors on the parking level and would serve as a community event.


By integrating with downtown and expanding into an underdeveloped corridor, this museum would, ideally, promote additional growth and urban infill, It would likely become a hub in East Tennessee for iron casting, as none that could serve a large number of users currently exists, and would have an unparalled display place for those cast items.

other works

Plywood Lamp Bent Italian Plywood and Concrete Spring 2012 Professor Ryann Aoukar


This project began as a study of Italian plywood and the history of bending wood to make furniture. While we were free to make any piece of furniture, it had to be made largely from bending and laminating Italian plywood. From the onset, I was fascinated with properties of reflected light: it is softer, it picks up the color of it’s reflector, and it is easier on the eye. This led to a strict set of criteria for the lamp, which were that it had to reflect light, it had to function as well or better than a standard lamp, and it had to be fully adjustable. Through many iterations, the solution eventually became a curved form with a concrete block for adjusting the angle of the light.

By sliding the concrete block along the bottom arm of the lamp, the elevated portion is now pulled down to the tabletop. The weight of the block was carefully calibrated to ensure ease of motion, while still allowing the lamp to remain stationary once adjusted. A piece of felt is attached to the underside of the block to create smooth movement, and also a shadow gap that visually lightens the concrete mass. The luminaire is actually encased within a painted, plexiglass sphere that directs the light upward, where it is reflected off the upper arm and then onto the surface of the table. By painting one side of the plexi-glass white and leaving the ends untreated, light is allowed to pass through unscathed in only one direction. The lateral light that could cause glare is dulled by the paint and only leaves a pleasant glow.


Wall Section Study Baumschlager Eberle Sirch Woodworking Factory Spring 2011 Professor Matthew Hall


This study began as a team effort to delve into the wall section of certain assigned projects. My team of three examined the Sirch Woodworking Factory in Bohen, Germany by the award-winning Baumschlager Eberle Architects. Beginning with an axonometric wall section, and then progressing into a built model, we studied floor assemblies, wall assemblies, and facade systems.

The factory features a unique facade system that utilizes layers to create depth and also serve as a rain screen. Almost the entire building is wrapped with slats of Siberian Larch that are spaced apart from each other to allow for limited views into and out of the building and also help to regulate the amount of thermal gain. These elements are often used, but rarely fully understood. By examining in a large scale model, we were able to articulate in three dimensions how each piece of this building would come together.


Demarcation Knoxville, Tennessee Spring 2012 Professor Matthew Hall


Oddfellows Cemetery, located in East Knoxville has been in a state of disrepair for the past four decades. This cemetery is largely neglected and has become a haven for crime in recent years. A delicate solution is necessary, as to allow minimal disturbance of the site. A demarcation may be all that is necessary to announce the cemetery to passers-by. This demarcation must be able to take on many different forms, including a seat, curb, ledge and demarcating line. The solution is this embodied in a full size mock up that inhabits a common area adjacent to the cemetery. Each typology had to be present, since the public would vote on which mock up they would prefer to surround their cemetery.

The mock up needed to be able to navigate uneven earth, as it would be a solution to surround the entire cemetery. The solution was to use site-cast concrete whose height would be adjustable, from flush, to bench. The bench cap acts as a beam, spanning the ends of the demarcation. This allows light through the demarcation and visually lightens it.




In order to arrive at a final decision for the texture, color and mix of the concrete, several tests were done. The final decision was to utilize a bubble wrap texture on the lower support, which would promote the growth of nature over the incision that the demarcation would inevitably become. Each portion of the demarcation was designed and built by the students in the class.

Design Portfolio  

A collection of my graduate works.

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