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    maintaining clear principles in your design

    By mccloskm
    Feb 25, '10 1:32 AM EST

    our midterm project for studio: mixed-use residential in chicago. First mixed-use project i have experienced. It brings into play the role of development driven design. the idea that this model of urban dwelling really does follow a fairly specific formula. Bound by standard lot sizes, and the need to economize space. So as architects where do we find the ability to express creativity? Materiality can begin address this issue. But more theoretically, i find inspiration in an article written by Maria Alessandra Segantini "Contemporary Architecture"

    She makes the argument that in the urban context individual creativity for the most part stops at the front door. We design these unique intimate spaces to dwell in; spaces that describe who we are, and are a reflection of our lifestyle and personalities. The urban fabric however does not allow this expression to meet to city. And we see a contrast with our interior spaces and the homogeneity of the city.

    I propose we confront this as designers within the urban environment. What tools can be used to reconsider what is private and what is public space in the city. I am definitely not supporting complete voyeurism. although an interesting concept, it is not realistic. But a hierarchy of privatization within the dwelling. Because, it really can be argued that when you decide to dwell in the city, you give up a certain level of privacy to begin with. This is based on sheer human density.

    So, this is a really intriguing concept to me. Our commercial tenant is a local art gallery, and to have artists live above their work in a situation that reconsiders the boundaries of privacy evokes the notion of two levels of interaction being on display. that of the art, as well as the creator.

    But....the study model was not received quit like i had planned. I think in my desk crit the adjectives were "barred boned" concept, and "flea market" among others.....

    i was disappointed. And that is what leads me to this notion of clarity of principles in your concept. Clearly the form that my study model took on did not make the connection between concept and building. Im looking at going back to the drawing boards with limited time in the design development stage now, and throwing out the question to the community, what you guys do to consistently design in the vein of your initial concept? do others find this as challenging as i do? I also could use some sleep....

    is anyone is interested in the segatini article, email me. i would be happy to pass it along. really interesting, quick read.

    also, for anyone who hasn't seen this amazing animation....the audio really makes the whole thing that much better.



    • Daniel Childs

      Hey Mccloskm,

      So I'm actually working on a project somewhat similar for my studio this year. It's an international art academy in downtown Portland, OR. I've certainly had this trouble experience of not having your actual model or project match your concept. From the beginning of this project I've had a pretty strong concept that has carried me though the mid-term and finally I've managed to get things aligned in a way that I feel reflect what I'm attempting too express. For me being confident in your concept regardless of what shape your structure is currently is very important. I also find useful to take a step back and approach the project from a larger perspective once in a while. Though it's not always easy to do so when your stuck in the building hours on end, it has helped me in the past to throw huge portions of the scheme out the window and make big moves which help to clear things up and allow other factors that you would have potentially missed to expose themselves.

      Depending on how far along you are in the project can determine how much you can change, but I've found that even when you make drastic alterations you don't really lose time because your understanding of the program and what needs to be factored in is much better.

      Anyway, that's just how I approach snags like this and I think always keeping your overall concept in mind (as long as it's convincing to you) can carry you through a project regardless of what iteration you end up with.

      I'd definitely be interested in reading that article too. Especially, as it relates to my studio this term as well.


      Feb 26, 10 4:56 am  · 


      i appreciate the input. I really agree w/ u. in fact, i made a decision on thursday night to make a severe change in direction. It is not an easy thing to do, and i have regressed...but ultimately i think it will prove to provide me with a stronger project in the end. It is also interesting that through this project i can see myself coming back to some of the first design ideas i had... its like moving between point A and point B there is always a direct path you can take. but often, you have to take this less efficient/ sideways/ roundabout direction to understand the problem. it is all in the design process, which is beautiful and extremely frustrating at the same time! i cited the article before incorrectly. it is actually "Contemporary Housing." ill see if i can send it to you. Does your art academy have a residential component? sounds like an interseting design project.

      Feb 27, 10 8:28 pm  · 

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