Feedback Loop

Library for the Information Age

5th Year Thesis: Brendan Miller

Advisor: Jane Clark

This library of the future and its supporting architectural language were developed through analysis and response to the behavior of the user group. Through an ongoing survey, it was determined that 50% of users go to the library for social interaction while only 50% go to use the print collection. Because of this, social interaction was used as a point of departure from which to formulate and define spatial characteristics into an architectural language. Both virtual data (from online catalog searches) and physical data (from user movement and spatial occupation) were used as input to determine the initial forms of the language. Evolution of this idea translated into a fully responsive building reacting to the users’ specific inputs on three levels: the mobile print collection, social spaces and operable facade panels. A static base structure houses movable ‘shells’ of books that can be rearranged or eliminated in response to user popularity. This enables library browsing to be more efficient because it makes the popular books more prominent. Shells are moved with a robotic mechanism and books can be inserted within the base structural system so that topics can grow and shrink as the user’s interest changes. The social spaces are monitored for use and help to determine where the most popular books should be located. The facade panels are mechanically controlled and will open and close in response to environmental qualities and user location.

School of Dance

Team s3wel: Skylar Tibbits, Scott Del Rossi & Jared Laucks

Design 9: 5th year studio with Professor Jane Clark

This building is an investigation of a pneumatic system which allows for expansion and contraction of programmatic spaces based on user activation. This method was chosen to maximize efficiency of programmatic volume and to allow for the adaptation of space based on programmatic need. The relationships between the dancer, performance space, and user are identified as adaptive, active or static variables of the time-based program. Adaptive is identified as an element in a system that is responsive to an outside variable. The main theatre and black box theatre are responsive to user activation and adaptation based on the varying “events” of performance. Active is identified as being an element in a system that is responsive to only another element within the system. The active programs are the practice studios and classroom spaces whose activation is dependent on the activation of the theatres. Static is identified as being a fixed element in a system. The static program elements are the faculty spaces and service spaces. The static zone “weaves itself” around the adaptive and active programs and provides constraints for the adaptive and active program. The static zone also serves as the primary structure, provides spaces for mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems, and vertical circulation. The building employs a closed system of air distribution, allowing a set volume of air for neutral state of programmatic activation and user occupation. This system is set up to allow for an inverse relationship between program activation and the air distribution, e.g. when a program space is activated, it pulls air from a de-activated program until its minimum is reached. Once the minimum is reached, air is then pulled from the next de-activated program on the list. The skin system is the primary element which serves as a system of compartmentalized chambers of air that allows for non-uniform expansion and contraction.

strata G: Urban Farm

5th Year Thesis: Brandon Kruysman & John Proto

Advisor: Jane Clark

This thesis project was the collaborative effort of 2 students: Jonathan Proto and Brandon Kruysman. I was fortunate enough to graduate from the only accredited graduate program in architecture that focuses on collaborative work. I immediately embraced this idea because projects of this scale are never designed as a singular effort. The scale of this thesis was on an urban level, as opposed to a single building, and the information that needed to be conveyed was dependent on clear and powerful graphics. The underground urban farm is a counter movement and critique of the developer-constructed infestation of Brewerytown, a current area of renewal in Philadelphia. Jon and Brandon creatively infused ideas from science fiction, modern trends in generative architectural design and brilliant graphics (through the computer applications of Rhinoceros, 3dsMAX, Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign). Their goal was to create a visionary approach for reclaiming this area of the city for the people, by the people, with the hope of taking down the ‘Toll Brothers’ and ‘Westrums’ of the world.

Silence to Sound

5th Year Thesis: Lauren Walters

Advisor: Jane Clark

Even the most complex architectural thesis project is dependent on the tool of sketching. In this case, Lauren chose to design a children’s center for cochlear implant rehabilitation. This project required a great amount of research and the end design was expressed through a complex series of digital images. When it came down to designing the building itself, Lauren struggled for a long time because she resisted the urge to simplify her digital approach by using hand drawing as a means to understand what she was creating, and in turn advance it. This simple series of sketches occurred about ¾ of the way through the semester. I sat down with her and started to sketch some of the ideas that were remaining in the form of discussion and theory. Once she saw the ideas hit the paper, she immediately started to sketch and draw for herself, which ultimately led to a major breakthrough. Hand drawing can be an amazing act of discovery and is critical to this kind of work.

Fabricating Urbanism

Student: Erin Montwill

Design 10: 5th Year Studio with Professor Jane Clark

This urban design studio was offered as an alternative to the 5th year thesis studio. Erin rigorously pursued the idea that she could statically analyze a series of good and bad neighborhoods in Philadelphia to come up with a recipe for the perfect Philadelphia neighborhood. Over the course of a semester, she did such an immense amount of research and analysis that it was almost impossible to present her work in the 45 minutes she was given at her final review. She and I decided that she needed to design a graphic language that would clearly and visually code her ideas. This language would allow her to present many drawings that could be read in an instant. The clarity of her graphic work was the key to successfully communicating her ideas and having a meaningful and constructive review.

Savelli Vineyard

Design 10: 5th Year Studio with Professor Jane Clark

Student: Tanya Ivanov

As part of a research grant, I made a short film entitled ‘Savelli Vineyard’ exploring the potential use of a spatial narrative as a means to embed complexity into the understanding and experience of architectural space. The psychological phenomenon of experiencing space results from the weaving of visual perspective, sensory input, memory and time. The topic of the movie was remembering an old man’s youth, growing up on a vineyard. Each student created a series of story boards to identify the emotional qualities the movie is trying to express. These story boards became the basis of a new story, unique to each student. The new stories illustrated how these memories could be brought forward into a new way of life, and ultimately helped the student develop a building program and design to house such emotional qualities.

Tanya’s project is a public vineyard in center city Philadelphia. Her intent was to create a place that embraced the cyclical and ritualistic qualities of wine production. The vines themselves become a space of celebration, entertainment and gathering. The heavy focus on perspective drawings was a critical part of achieving emotive design. Tanya first create views of the moments she would like the user to experience and then documented the plans, sections and elevations that would accommodate such moments.

Student: Erike DeVeyra

This is another example of a project based on the short film ‘Savelli Vineyard’. In this case, Erike used the act of sketching to express her own emotions that she felt while viewing the movie. Erike was taken by the images of vast openness that lend themselves to quiet, protected moments of solitude. Erike decided that this type of environment would be wonderful for a facility for abused children. The working vineyard would be a place of structure and activity for the children while the vastness of the land and the safe, protected spaces within the vines would provide moments of reflection, thought and healing.