theCharrette tulane school of architecture
Letter from the Editor
A Moment with Ken
If Walls Could Speak
Outside the Studio: Jake McGregor
Firm Profile : SO-IL
The AIAS and its Worth to a Design Student
Local Architecture: Andrew H. Wilson Charter School
When in Rome?
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nov. 8 stanley saitowitz
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nov. 8 wendy evans joseph . chris cooper nov. 13 sustainable design conference
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second year studio
Letter from the Editor | Kevin Michniok Iâ€™m constantly reminded of the great environment we have here at Tulane, both within our school of architecture and also the university as a whole. The quality of students Tulane attracts allows us to be immersed in our own academic disciplines but with a rigor and focus simultaneously mirrored by our peers who study different fields but are able to relate their work back to ours. This inter-disciplinary force is partially what constitutes a strong studio environment: the ability to synthesize core issues and test them out in front of fellow design students from vastly different backgrounds, before broadcasting this learned knowledge in a critique setting. A sound studio environment is, in part, the offspring of a strong studio culture. I canâ€™t stress enough the importance of commingling with students from different years. Make it a habit to stop by younger and older year studios to better understand the progression that a design student experiences during the extent of their education. Despite how great our classes are, they can only teach us so much during their allotted time. A good amount of my sophomore year acquired knowledge of Rhino
and Vray Render was obtained through discussions with upperclassmen. The refining of renderings through small but powerful manipulations was influenced by my discussions with students who I knew had a mastery of these programs. I feel confident in the ability of our staff and our new faculty advisor, Professor Graham Owen. The resources and experience Professor Owen brings is unquestionably remarkable. We will continue to utilize his extensive journalistic background to improve the content of theCharrette. Deans Schwartz and Gamard have also been instrumental in supporting our dream of continuing a free expression of journalism in a design atmosphere. As always, email us with questions and feedback at thecharrette@ gmail.com. It is through the Deans Fund for Excellence that we are able to operate.
A Moment with Ken | Goals. Ranks. Renovations. Relations Interview by John Nelson
The goal of this interview is to get a snap shot of the Dean’s office and its position on the issues that are currently shaping the school. The answers, more thorough than expected, provide a glimpse of the Dean’s comprehensive plan outlining the new direction the school is taking and pick up on issues left off from last year. Q. What are your short term goals that you hope to accomplish this year? A. If I could step back, there are three top priorities that have been influencing my decisions over the past two years. And I say this because they’re still front and center as issues that I am interested in for this coming year. They are: strengthening the core, which means doing everything I can in collaboration with students and staff to take the things we have done historically well and do them better to increase opportunities within the core enterprise of what we do as a school of architecture. I think that is important to be first on the list because there sometimes is a temptation to do new things or to disperse energy in a lot of directions and I think there is a value in consolidating efforts and building on strengths. I started two years ago when I came. I was very concerned about and overloading of the curriculum. The first thing I did in July of that year was propose some changes to the curriculum that didn’t change them spirit of what we were doing, but it reduced the number of credits and reduced the number of courses. It made a more humane and more focused curriculum out of the curriculum I inherited. And the faculty embraced that very quickly; they completely understood what I was suggesting. We needed to lower the credits. We are down to 168 now, it was 178 when I came here and that was too much. It was spread too thin. So that is a good example in terms of the life of students and faculty in focusing attention around the essentials of what we do in a curriculum. 168 is still a lot of credits as everyone knows. If I could continue to play on that one priority, this year, I think there is a continuing effort to strengthen the coordination within each individual year and among the year coordinators. That has been helping a lot over the last two years, but it is playing out all the time. I’ve made a serious effort to coordinate the summer graduate program much more aggressively this year, and as a result I think it was a very successful summer.
I think the graduate students plus one transfer student who was in that group really benefitted from that. The second priority is called raising the profile. I have written a strategic plan which gives the sort of nuance within each of these three categories. It helps me keep focused on these issues. Raise the profiles really means celebrating the great work of students and faculty both locally, within the city and the university, and nationally, across the country and even internationally. That has huge benefits to us as a school. I had the sense when I came here that there were all sorts of terrific things going on at a lot of different levels. There were some that were very obvious and some that were more subtle, and I wanted to use my position to elevate and celebrate the understanding beyond what we all know to be sort of exciting moments in the school’s identify. Things like the Ogden show have been incredibly valuable. Students and faculty together choose eight projects and exhibit them at a major museum. That is huge for those eight students; its a major accomplishment for them. It’s really good for the school too. I host a party, I pay for it, I invite everyone from the community to come. Its free and open to the public. I invite two very prominent architects to come and comment on the students work, and these are major figures. So not only do we get a major event out of it, but we also get them to go back home and talk about the things that are happening at Tulane. So that’s raising the profile, and it has really helped. Frankly, that is one of the reasons I started the Ogden, I wanted to raise the bar and get students working with ambition toward being represented in a major show. It’s a real carrot as they say. The third priority is to engage the community. That is obviously something we have been doing very well. Not only since the storm, we have been doing that before the storm. But the idea is how can we do that better. How can we increase that kind of engagement where it is appropriate, and how do we support it? The public service fellowships I started this past summer are a really good example of that. We selected four students as paid interns working with non profits, and I pay them to work with these non profits under the supervision of our faculty. Grover Mouton, Byron Mouton and Scott Bernhard did the oversight of that. So I am working on all three of those things for this coming year.
There are three big things I am specifically working on this year. Number one, I am starting a national search for a new associate Dean for Academics. Dean Gamard will continue with her role as Associate Dean, essentially Associate Dean for students. I really value what she does, and I think students and faculty alike deeply respect what she does for the school. I want to have another Associate Dean because I think its very important to have the internal operation of the Dean’s office here and across the university really well represented and I am spread too thin. I have to be able to travel a lot, I have to be able to raise money and I have to have oversight here. A typical model of a school our size would have two Associate Deans. So that’s happening right now, and we have already attracted some great applicants. That will be a very important hire for the school and that will play out with student input and faculty input starting in about a month. Second we have started this new Master of Sustainable Real Estate Development Program. I appointed a director, Sandi Stroud, she is a TSA alumni herself. She is fantastic, that’s why I hired her. She is also a graduate of MIT’s Real Estate Program. So we’re going to be starting a new program beginning in June. It is a one year Masters program open for anyone coming out of a Bachelors degree, Arts and Sciences, SLA, Engineering, Business, Architecture, Nursing, you name it. Any undergraduate degree plus taking the GMATs get you in the door, if you are accepted. I am anticipating thirty new students, they won’t be studio students, rather graduate students studying the connection between sustainable design and sustainable real estate. The third one is that we are starting a search for a new director of the Preservation program. Dr. Cizeck is stepping down at the end of the year and that is a huge change for the school because he has been leading that for the past forty years. He has chosen to step down and therefore we need to keep that legacy moving forward. Exactly who will fill the role or how this will shift the program, we don’t now yet, but it is very important for he school, the community and our identify. So those are things I’m working on. Q. As you work toward raising the profile of TSA, how much are you focusing on the school’s national rank, and do you think that rank important?
A. It’s very important, and we are making progress. Last year we appeared in DeisgnIntelligence for the first time to my knowledge as a hidden gem of architectural education. And we are beginning to be recognized for the qualities that we should be recognized for. We hadn’t been recognized in that manner as much as we should have been before I arrived. So it’s gratifying to see national attention turning to us in many different ways, and rankings are one of the ways that matter. Q. On more of a domestic issue, how do you see the renovation of the fourth floor being resumed? A. We are going to do that this summer. It was interesting though because I had a choice between trying to do it quickly and cutting some things to make it work in the budget or waiting and doing it as best we possibly can. I believe strongly that when you do something , especially in a school of architecture, you really need to do it at a high level, and its better to wait. And that is exactly what I chose to do. Q. In light of your experience with other universities, what is your opinion of TSA’s relationship with the administration of the university itself? A. It’s an excellent relationship here. I don’t know how it works at the student level, because I am not a student and I don’t live that. In terms of my role as a leader within the institution, both the relationships and the mutual support are very strong here, and I think it is one of the reasons we are making so much progress. People here are working very hard, faculty and students, but also we are very well appreciated at the university level. President Cowen talks about us frequently. Provost Bernstein talks about us frequently. There are also a lot of other connections we have across the university in research and corporate relations. There are lots of things that we connect to that most don’t know because it is sort of the behind the scenes of what we do administratively, but those relationships here are extraordinarily strong. It comes from the very top but it also comes from the bottom up so to speak. They understand that the work of students and faculty on a day to day basis here is unique and it is making unique contributions.
Validity of the Design Competition Lucas Velle
This year started with, what felt like a staggering slap that could ruffle even the fondest feelings from summer. After the dust and chaos of the first week settled, one question still lingered: was it worth it? This year the project coordinators decided to begin the fall semester with a design competition involving all students above first year. The competition was in stark contrast to Augusts past, given that students are typically immersed in a project particular to each grade level. Despite the abrupt change in routine, there were definite benefits to having an intensive design competition during the first week of school. Cordula Roser-Gray, project coordinator and current second year professor, said: “I think that the student design competition was a very positive experience. Having a specific, time-limited deadline during the first week of the semester gives students and faculty the opportunity to quickly focus back on the challenges ahead.” The competition forced participants to immediately reacquaint themselves with the fast-paced work ethic that is required of any design student. As most students will admit, it is a challenging task to break the relaxed mind-set of summer. Although the competition didn’t help ease the pain
of leaving sun-soaked beaches, low-key jobs and endless free time, it did eliminate a lot of premature design anxieties related to the beginning of a new academic year. The most unique element of the design competition was that it included all student grades after the first year. An inclusive project of this magnitude encouraged a connection among the grades that is otherwise hard to achieve. Displaying the finished boards in the Favrot Lobby and Thompson Hall allowed for a unique opportunity for all students to view their fellow classmates’ work at the same time. For students in earlier grades this was an opportunity to gather a sense of what future work will look like, what to strive for, or even what to strive to beat. The advantage didn’t solely lie with the younger grades as each student brought their individual ideas of how best to address the project in the competition. Giving multiple years the same project showed diverse ways of addressing a single issue. The result wasn’t a monotypic sea of similar projects but rather a wide variety of disparate interpretations that hopefully evoked a fresh wave of design ideas to mark the beginning of a new academic year.
Letter to the Editor | If Walls Could Speak Dear Tulane School of Architecture, I knew from the moment this project was announced that my days might be numbered. I do hope that if I have to go, it will be for a significant gain in the operation of the school. As you know, I am old, but I have stayed in good shape for over a century, and I am in fact much stronger than my younger counterparts. I was threatened once before, during the last renovation, when the architect wanted to move me over one foot (I believe in the opposite direction!) from what is now being proposed. As you know, I cannot actually be moved. I would need to be demolished and rebuilt if you only wanted to “move” me a few inches. And then it would not be me. Please bear with me, and let me tell you a little about myself. For over a century I have enjoyed my role of separating activities on the fourth floor of this magnificent building. I allow light that enters into more private spaces behind me to pass through my generous clerestory windows into the gallery beyond, while maintaining acoustic privacy for both spaces. My windows were covered over for many years until, during a renovation caused by a fire that could have taken my life, you architects were able to realize the value of the additional natural light I could provide. My doors are really something special due to their size and the fact that they and their entire framework are made of original growth cypress from the swamps of Louisiana. I bet there’s not a person on the faculty that is strong enough to lift one of my doors alone. From my point of view and that of other walls (some of whom live outdoors), original growth cypress is unparalleled in its resistance to moisture and decay as well as a beautifully grained and easily worked trim material. Unfortunately the wood is no longer available as all of the cypress for6
ests were clear-cut for the massive amount of residential construction in New Orleans at the turn of the century. The wood of my doors might have come from the Turtle Cove area that the 2nd year students visited last year. I overheard them discussing the project frequently in the circulation/discussion space I help define. One more thing about my doors that I remember is that they were made as wide as they are to allow for the passage of corpse-laden gurneys way back when my building housed the medical school. Activities that I witnessed long ago still mark my surface. The unusually wide doors establish a module, which is consistently carried out along my surface in a carefully crafted grid made of that precious cypress material. My substantial clerestory mullions hide even the walls that join me from behind. Only a door added to access a peculiarly shaped office several years ago interrupts the modular veil across my face. My bones are from a species known as longleaf pine. You see it on the floors of the historic houses in New Orleans. It is nothing like the pine I see our students using these days. As it also was harvested from original growth forests, the sap rings are extremely close together. My pine is reddish in color, strong, heavy and larger in dimension than lumber milled today. Across these bones runs some lath out of the same pine and then layers of plaster that squish through the spaces between the lathe strips making the plaster subsurface of my skin (full of horsehair) extremely strong. In closing, like the tree in Shel Silverstein’s book, I want to say that I am willing to serve you in any way that I can. If I must depart, please make sure that my absence will better help you reach your goals. Sincerely, The Wall
jake performing with bandmate duz mancini. photo by arjeane thompson
Outside the Studio | Jake McGregor Hannah Ambrose
[It’s no surprise that architecture school attracts a diverse range of creativeminded students, who come from a variety of artistic backgrounds. Inherently, “studio culture” itself relies upon the pre-existing skills and portfolios of its students whom create a hub of innovative energy that fuels our education. Unfortunately, the grueling demands of studio deadlines and reviews can eclipse our desires to express ourselves in other mediums and we often risk falling prone to “plan, section, elevation,” isolation. This column aims to seek out the rare student that strays from their drawing board to pursue other artistic interests that inspire and sculpt their architectural identity.] – Excerpt from Article 1 Jake McGregor, a junior here at TSA, has become well known within the third year studio for his talents as a guitar player and vocalist for the Coyotes. You may have spotted the distinct red graphic pinned up on small flyers around school, promoting Jake’s recent shows at venues such as Café Prytania, the Republic and The Boot. I recently sat down with Jake to talk about his side project and how it has influenced his architectural work this semester. When asked at what point he began to be interested in music, Jake replied, “At about twelve I started to learn the guitar and then by fourteen I was writing songs.” Jake commonly seeks inspiration from his relationship with his “parents, beautiful women, and the common everyday struggles that kids our age can relate to,” and he cites his biggest influences as Bruce Springsteen, The Eagles, and British new-wave bands such as The Smiths and The Cure. Last summer, Jake was admitted into the prestigious music program at the University of Southern California, but rejected the offer to continue his architectural degree at TSA. I asked Jake if there was a relationship between the music he writes and the projects he designs. His answer made it clear that in fact there was a correlation, further proving that our education has the potential to influence our lives much more broadly than our futures in the architectural realm. Jake replied: “I think the relationship is mostly evident in the way that architecture inspires my music. I have a lot of fun relating the crafting of a song to the schematic design phase of a project, where it’s my responsibility to combine the different components and make sure the pieces of the puzzle fit together. I tend to treat any given song as a problem and I’m responsible for devising the solution.”
The California native spent this past summer recording his music in Los Angeles and looks forward to selling more of the Coyote’s Albums at upcoming shows. TSA faculty member Thaddeus Zarse is rumored to be a fan, which may or may not help record sales. Take a break from studio and check out the Coyotes at their next show Saturday October 16th at the Howlin’ Wolfe. Proceeds will benefit continued oil spill relief in the gulf. You can also find the Coyotes music at www.myspace.com/coyotesband. If you (or anyone you know here at TSA) have a passion that inspires your work as a student, please feel free to contact Hannah Ambrose at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Firm Profile | Rianna Bennett
Solid Objectives – Idenburg Liu, or SO–IL, is a small firm based in Brooklyn, NY with combined experience in architecture, academia, and the arts. Florian Idenburg and Jing Liu founded this firm in 2007, with the goal of realizing all of their ideas in the world. Idenburg was born in the Netherlands and graduated with a Master of Science degree from Delft University. Before cofounding SO–IL, he was an associate at SANAA in Japan from 2000-2007. Most recently, Idenburg works as an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Architecture at Columbia University and as a Design Critic at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard. Jing Liu grew up in China, Japan, and the United Kingdom. She then moved to the United States where she attended Tulane University and obtained her Masters of Architecture. Liu worked at Starwood Group and Kohn Pederson Fox before cofounding SO–IL. She is currently a Professor in the Advanced Architectural Degree Program at Columbia University. Jazzy Li, a third year at Tulane University, had the amazing opportunity of interning at SO–IL this past summer. Most of the other interns at this small, three architect firm were Harvard GSD students who had previously worked under Idenburg. Jazzy was able to set up a meeting with Liu while she was a visiting guest for thesis reviews last spring to talk and show off his portfolio. “I am very grateful for the opportunities that Tulane has provided me by bringing guest lecturers and reviewers into the Tulane community” Jazzy commented. While working at SO–IL, Jazzy contributed to many of the firm’s most recent, well know, and published projects include Pole Dance and Flockr Pavilion. SO–IL was announced as the winner for the P.S.1 competition for their Pole Dance proposal in January 2010. This competition, run by MoMA’s Young Architects Program, has been occurring since 2000. The goal of this competition is to allow emerging architects the opportunity to experiment with new shapes and materials culminating in a summer instillation at the P.S.1. Designed as an interactive environment between humans and the proposal’s structure, Pole Dance acts as a system of poles and bungees that react with human interaction and the natural environment. The structure is constructed from 25-foot tall poles on a 12 by 12 foot grid in a courtyard. The flexibility and constant movement of the bungee cords creates a continuous flowing movement throughout the courtyard. This was one of the first projects that Jazzy worked on while at Solid Objectives. He began working at the firm dur8
flockr pavilion. photos by iwan baan
ing the actual construction of the project in New York City and worked with the many other student volunteers to quickly assemble the installation while meeting the $85,000 budget. Flockr Pavilion, in Beijing, China, was designed as a central hub for the well-established media and arts festival, Get it Louder (or 新视线 for those fluent in Chinese). This biannual festival features a series of lectures, screening, and exhibitions from local and international designers, writers, filmmakers, and artists. This year’s theme focused on the relationship and juxtaposition of public and private spaces in the contemporary digital age. By cladding the skin of the pavilion in thousands of tinted mirrored panels, the structure quickly responds to its environment, reflecting its surroundings. Each individual is allowed to respond individually to the wind by innovatively attaching only the top of each panel to the structure. This experimental design assembly creates a skin that is permeable to light and air and gives the interior a dynamic pattern of thousands of glimmering reflections off of the panels. According to Liu, the design head of the project, “We [Solid Objectives] envisioned the pavilion as a place where ideas can flock together, be projected, pass through, and be nurtured and distilled”. Because this project was so far from the firm’s office, SO–IL was in desperate need of a project that could stay in contact with the project engineers and construction crew in China. Luckily Jazzy, a Chinese native, was able to act as the project architect, translating conversations for employees in the New York firm, making sure everything stayed on track for the September 20th opening. SO–IL’s recently publicized works combine varying approaches to architecture in a seamless manner to create innovative and contemporary instillations. P.S.1’s submission, Pole Dance and Flockr Pavilion are only two examples of this firm’s achievements, all of which can be viewed at their website, so-il.org.
p.s1. photos by iwan baan
The AIAS and its Worth to a Design Student Sanaa Shaikh
view inside guthrie theatre. photo by kevin michniok
As design students, particularly architecture students, we have been exposed to certain organizations like the American Institute of Architecture Students, the AIAS. We all remember sitting at our desks and being approached by upperclassman who handed us membership papers with a fifty-nine dollar price tag attached. Is joining the AIAS worth the money, time, and ultimately the effort? Just over 50 years old, the AIAS is an independent, non-profit, student run organization representing nearly 300,00 architecture students studying at accredited architecture programs. The mission of this vast association is to promote excellence in architecture education, training, and practice; to foster an appreciation of architecture and related disciplines; to enrich communities in a spirit of collaboration; and finally, to organize students and combine their efforts to advance the art and science of architecture. Crit, a journal publication in which members can publish their work and articles, is attributed to both domestic and international architecture programs. The AIAS website states, “Crit, the Journal of the AIAS, has been the premier source of and the only international journal of student design work. The theme of each issue provides a dialogue of current issues in architectural education and the profession. Student projects are published in an effort to highlight the best of the best in architecture schools.” The AIAS also conducts a community service program called Freedom by Design™ to utilize the unique talents of architecture, impacting the lives of people in their community with design and construction solutions. The program not only provides students with real world experience, but also a chance to explore how to resolve accessibility issues and the practical impact design can have on local residents. Tulane’s own AIAS chapter has deep roots within TSA. AIAS Tulane is part of the South Quad Conference but has sought to extend its relationship with schools outside of the region. At the most recent Grassroots Leadership Conference, AIAS Tulane networked further with the University of Southern California and Kuwait University among others, exchanging ideas and solutions for better membership and local chapter business. 2009-2010 AIAS President Je’Nen Chastain said, “Incredible leaders within the architecture community engage in AIAS conferences. Just a year ago Cameron Sinclair came to our AIAS Grassroots Leadership Conference to speak with students about projects Architecture for Humanity was working on at the time. Students were really excited to meet him and to have the opportunity to casually speak with him over lunch.” Seeking to bridge the gap between students and faculty that often exists in academia as well as to provide unique programming relevant to contemporary issues, AIAS Tulane supplements an architectural education 10
by allowing opportunities for students to engage in firm crawls, design competitions both at both at the local and national level as well as participation in progressively-charged AIAS conferences. In addition, they sponsor workshops, lecture speakers, and the Career Fair, which attracts firms from around the U.S. to see the strong design work of TSA students. But it is in the wide variety of scales of events that AIAS Tulane gets its message across. “Small gestures in addition to our major events and programming show we’re an organization who cares deeply about the development and finetuning of a student’s design and leadership skills, pertinent to their evolution into an architect or design professional” AIAS Tulane President Kevin Michniok said. Tulane School of Architecture graduates have a rich history in AIAS involvement at the national level. Tony Vanky, TSA ’07 currently pursuing a Master of Science in Architectural Studies at MIT was previous national AIAS Vice President. He co-chaired the publication of Towards an Evolution in Studio Culture and also co-chaired AIAS’s combined efforts for the 2008 Accreditation Review Conference. Most recently, Vanky was elected as a member of the NAAB Board in July. He has also served on past ACSA boards and other accreditation panels. Cassandra Howard, TSA ’09, recent graduate of the MPS program, and past AIAS Tulane Vice President, was selected to serve as the AIAS team representative for NAAB in their process of re-accrediting UCLA. Currently working for Mathis Brierre Architects in New Orleans, Howard was instrumental in hosting the South Quad Conference in Fall 2008 at Tulane. Current vice president Danielle McDonough said, “The most long-lasting impact of being involved with AIAS is the network that you create. This profession is a small one, and one will come to find out that the connections you make in school will be the same people who are your colleagues, clients and mentors throughout your career. AIAS provides networking opportunities to reach beyond your studio to other students and emerging professionals from across the country and beyond.” Ultimately, is forty-nine dollars worth the various opportunities and resources provided for the AIAS member at his disposal? The positive implications are obvious. The organization is dedicated to helping students achieve their goals, providing mentorship, leadership, and exposing them to incredible opportunities. For additional information about AIAS Tulane or to become a member, contact the Board of Directors at aiastulane@ gmail.com for membership forms. Visit facebook to become a fan of the ‘’AIAS Tulane” page.
Local Architecture for a Purpose | Andrew H. Wilson Charter School Hannah Ambrose
The approach through the surrounding neighborhood to Andrew H. Wilson Charter School is an interesting one. Situated amongst rows of iconic single-family shotgun houses, the new terra-cotta face of Wilson acts as a guide for attending children in the neighborhood. It’s a typical, sunny, late-summer school day, and hurried students skip off their wooden porches and make their way through the schools welcoming new breezeway. As the school day commences and the children file into their classrooms, tiny feet shuffle against the bamboo floorboards beneath them. As one mischievous little boy steps out of line and leans against the wall, a teacher’s aid offers a kind reminder, “We don’t touch the walls, remember? This is our new school and we want to treat it with respect.” It’s obvious while watching both the faculty and the students here that Wilson’s new, LEED Gold Certified renovation and expansion has done more than improve an old, hurricane damaged school. The improvements made here have given the students a sense of pride in their learning environment and a new-found interest in sustainability. Charles Montgomery, principal of HMS architects who designed Andrew H. Wilson, points to the large cistern within the children’s bright courtyard. “The markings on the side of the cistern show the children how much water has been retained from recent rainfall. “ When, during recess, the children question the big metal cistern in front of them, they are taught that the water being collected is used to irrigate the landscaping and their beloved butterfly garden. Marking the transition between the old and the new is an eye-grabbing map of surrounding streets and neighborhoods. Adjacent to the map is another graphic element describing the history behind those names and the people who inspired them. As children make their way through the halls and up the surrounding stairwells, their wandering eyes make the connection between their neighborhood’s history and the streets they walk through on the way to school. Looking upwards, the original wooden beams and decorative molding mingle with the new curved drop ceiling--- a detail that serves as a reminder of the past and its relationship with the present. Walk into any given classroom and it’s hard to ignore the graceful natural light that sweeps across the space. It was here, facing the challenge of natural day lighting and historical preservation, that the architects at HMS and their partners at Innovative Design spent the most time deliberating. In order to keep the external façade of the old school historically accurate, the innovation behind the lighting technology was deferred to
andrew h. wilson charter school. photo by hannah ambrose
the inside of the classroom. Scott Welty, associate architect at HMS explains, “We used low-laying panes for the non-baffled windows that are accessible to the children’s views, and opti-white (crystal clear) panes for the baffled windows above.” This method of sun shading redirects the harsh sunlight away from the classroom desks and helps to keep the classrooms at a comfortable temperature. For veteran performance space designers at HMS, designing the music room and choir space was “especially fun.” The floating floor below the music room acts as a noise-buffer for the library beneath. In addition, special consideration was allotted toward limiting sound transfer between classrooms, and adding an additional floating floor under the attic to successfully buffered out mechanical noise. The library and adjoining computer room are impressive during the day as they require no artificial lighting and are also programmed as a community education center at night. The graceful articulation of light in these rooms can be attributed to the arching light reflectors that hug the inside of the window. Next to a library window there is a child-sized framed wall cut-out, showcasing the eco-friendly insulation behind the common drywall. This attention to detail helps reinforce the space as a learning environment, opening young minds to the variety of ways that their school keeps them safe, comfortable, and healthy. Overall, the architects’ drive to educate young students about their cultural and natural environment and the use of environmentally responsible resources becomes increasingly evident as one walks through the school, pausing to read signage about the recycled bottle bench and rubber gym flooring. It is this enthusiasm about the project’s greater purpose that sets Wilson Charter apart from other LEED projects, helping to inform the younger generation of their valued place in the recovering city of New Orleans.
Sukkah 2.0 redefining the image Frank Xiong
sukkah in pocket park. photos by david armentor
sukkah in pocket park. photo by david armentor
Sukkah 2.0 presented a unique opportunity for students to take their design experience outside the classroom and into the built environment. The result of this experiment was a series of temporary structures that allowed the Tulane community to both see and experience architecturally significant spaces. A sukkah is a temporary hut-like structure built for the Jewish holy holiday of Sukkot. The sukkah’s typical image is primitive and is always topped with branches or vegetation of some sort. Sukkahs also have an opening to the sky so that the occupant can see the stars and often have more openings to feel better connected to the natural surroundings. It is symbolically primitive because it commemorates the time the Israelites spent in the wilderness after their exodus from Egypt. People following the Jewish Faith will eat, sleep, and spend time meditating in their sukkah during this holiday. Spearheading this project was Scott Ruff, Associate Professor and first year studio coordinator, and Judi Shade Monk, Adjunct Lecturer and third studio professor. Scott Ruff was first approached by Rabbi Yonah Schiller, executive director of Hillel, to have architecture students construct sukkahs for the Jewish holiday. After last year’s successful yet reserved effort, Ruff saw a unique teaching opportunity with this year’s attempts. “Sukkah 2.0 offers a rare opportunity for students to actually build their projects in full scale” said Ruff. Ruff also says that design and build allowed students to deal with the less talked about issues faced by architects: working with a client and dealing with a strict budget.
The creation of this project was divided into several phases, the first of which was design. The design teams, lead by Garrett Jacobs, Nels Erickson, and Michael Greene, held impromptu design studios with Ruff and Monk for three consecutive weeks editing and finalizing the projects. The construction phase took over two weeks and included both preassembling large pieces and building the structure on-site. In the end, three sukkahs with unique tectonic forms were erected. The locations were adjacent to Bruff Commons, in Pocket Park, and in front of Howard Tilton Memorial Library. The projects drew the curious attention of Tulane and other pedestrians who further investigated the new structures. As for the future of Sukkah, Ruff has big dreams. He has already spoken to Rabbi Schiller and plans to expand to 5 sukkahs next year for Sukkah 3.0. “I also want these projects to be more design-aggressive,” said Ruff. The hope is that these annual events become more official within the eyes of the architecture school as well. All the hours that students and faculty members put in this year were off the book and on their own time. Since students dedicate so much time to this project, Ruff hopes that academic credits can be given next year both as an incentive for more students to join and to give students what they deserve for their efforts. Compared to last year’s single, fairly reserved sukkah, this year’s projects were unique fusions of traditional elements and architectural forms. If enthusiasm for sukkah design continues as expected into next year, the project could very well become a staple fall production here at TSA. October 2010
When in Rome? new perspective on ancient architecture Nick Gervasi
students sketching. photos by nick gervasi
rome compliation. photos by nick gervasi
Departing from four floors above the space that is arguably the largest collection of tourists in a single piazza, I descend the stairs out into the street bypassing the Pantheon, the essence of perfection. This journey is comparable to the same basic street layouts that the Romans transversed thousands of years ago. There is an ever-present history here that is the culmination of layers of classical, renaissance, baroque, neoclassical and rarely modern architecture. The sensual overload and alternation in perspective makes Rome an incredibly engaging place to study architecture, although it can be dangerous if a critical attitude is not established. This critical attitude goes beyond the tourist point of view that simply relishes in the superficial beauty of the buildings. Constantly being befuddled by new sights, smells, and sounds – whether it is the aroma of the delicious Italian cuisine or the gentleman who plays Stairway to Heaven in Piazza Navona every night – each day brings on new delights of the senses. Our professors assist us in molding the ability to break down buildings with relation to their predecessors and modern descendents. Shifts in design theory and execution of those modifications are thoroughly examined in all our classes through different media. Tiffany Lin’s Architectural Drawing class focuses on capturing the proportions of the innumerable churches, basilicas, and ruins across Rome. Through field documentation and demonstration we are taught to slow down our minds in order to fully absorb and record the details. The process that occurs between observing the building and drawing it with a pencil is the moment where this critical attitude manifests itself. Not being the best sketch-artist myself, I appreciate the emphasis on the analysis of proportions. Getting an overall perspective of the city is crucial to understanding the small moments. This broader view is developed through Marcella Del Signore’s History of the City class. In this class, we study how paths, edges, districts, nodes, and landmarks come together and interrelate to determine the hierarchy of
the city. The goal of the class is to create mappings of Rome that follow a certain theory of how to read the city. These theories include approaches that are rules, experiential, or abstract based. Additionally, we are taught by one of Rome’s own, David Sabatello, who was the project architect for Zaha Hadid’s Maxxi Museum. A combination of lectures, discussions, and site visits, David’s Materials and Methods class is a synthesis of historical building construction and how it can be applied to contemporary practice. Dissecting the ancient buildings through a modern perspective, the similarities are sometimes overwhelming in number. Coupled with tactile differences, the Rome Program is structured entirely different from the typical studio semester back home. Interventional architecture is the focus of the program – providing a solution to a site crisis that goes beyond just the built form. Information technology and landscape manipulation are activated in the design process. Digressing from a standardized checklist of program, students select the program and even the site that they perceive as the most deprived condition. Temporal qualities of buildings are rigorously explored with reference to the metamorphic piazzas spread across Rome. All these differentiations from studio in New Orleans became fully utilized during the ten-day Sicily Lab with Antonino Saggio, professor of University La Sapienza and Ph.D. candidate Antonino Di Raimo. The male students got to experience a live/work condition – something not too unfamiliar at studio in New Orleans – in which we inhabited the floor below studio. With the perfect quick meal café down the street in which I’m pretty sure I tried everything, we were never too far from studio. For this workshop, students were given the option to work in small groups of two or three or by themselves. The workshop was established around digital presentation where students presented their designs via projector. No printed material or models were permitted. All these shifts in perspective allow us to fully absorb our surroundings in order to create architecture that speaks with new language but falls back on old traditions. October 2010
kevin michniok, eic hannah ambrose katherine delacey ian oâ€™cain
rianna bennett john nelson sanaa shaikh lucas velle frank xiong
nick gervassi andrew graham michael green tiffany lin marcella del signore david armentor
theCharrette October 2010 Issue