This was a project for fourth year, first semester. This studio was unique in that it was the first integrated studio at Texas A&M. The studio took the design process and added in the design and specification of the structural elements as well as the systems. The idea was to get the student to understand what else is involved when designing a building besides form and function. The challenge was to design a library of special collections donated by citizens of Bryan, as well as creating a community center that would get people involved in their neighborhoods. This was to be our first group project, and our group consisted of: Myself (Zack Morris), Johnathan Zuniga, and Juliette Thompson. Conceptualizing the project was done in a much more different manner than a typical studio. The studio professor, Michael O’Brien’s process was to create sketch models out of common materials. We would find a design we liked, then begin to figure out how we would fit the floor plan inside the design.
There was only a few minutes to derive a concept, so there was not much thought and contemplation involved in the designs. After the sketch models were completed, our systems “advisor” took the class outside to show us how to study and observe the day-lighting element of our designs. She had us study the shadow angles of our building, and begin to find solutions for day-lighting issues, such as excessive sunlight. The group, after several design concepts and ideas, finally decided on using the concept of the yin and yang, creating harmony and balance within our structure. The first way we wanted to express the concept, was to separate the buildings into two uses, daytime, and nighttime. The library would be very open, using natural lighting to create a more open feel. The second building, the auditorium, would be very closed, trying to keep the light inside. Our group began to develop the building, with hand drawings provided by myself, and a Revit model provided, by Juliette. The main issue we had, was that our site was very small, and our building footprint was getting too large to fit, so we devised to move parts of our structure underground. By doing so, it made it easier to keep the special collections preserved underground, away from direct sunlight.
As the concept became more of a solid decision, we began to develop what we wanted the exterior was to look like. I sketched out three possible concepts of what we could do with the exterior facade. I tried to integrate the idea of harmony between the two structures in as many ways as I could. We had decided that the common meeting area that was open more hours of the day would be visually open, allowing much more daylight. The other building was a theater or lecture hall, which did not require as much direct light, so that building would appear more dense and solid than the opposite structure. I then attempted to tie them together by one or two small factors, very similar to the yin and yang.
The choice and color of material that was used in both buildings was the best possible tie because it was the easiest visually for someone to make the connection.
At midterm, we presented before a panel of both studio professors, our consultants, and our peers. Unfortunately, our review was not good at all, and we were told to start back over from the very beginning. They picked apart our project, explaining our concept was a good one, but the expression of that concept was much too simple, almost obvious. After the critique, Professor O'Brien sat down with us and gave us a choice: start over from the beginning, or try to salvage what we could from our initial project. After careful consideration, I decided to move on separately from my the group, and begin the process over with the same concept. I believed that there was still potential with the concept, and I did not want to give up on something so quickly. I took the initial concept and broke it down to find its faults. The largest was the overall form of the building. It resembled the actual yin and yang much too closely, which was the largest concern from the professors. I began to abstract it visually, creating more differences between the two structures, while still keeping key similarities to tie the buildings together. Upon final review, I was able to win the approval of my professors, as well as my peers from my presentation.
Status: School Project
Location: Bryan, TX, US