Pittsburgh  Playground

 

How can the identity of a city stay true to itself while evolving with the natural course of time, development, population and money?

Who defines the culture of a city--the past, the present or the future?

How can a new architectural morphology address issues of identity  and ownership in an increasingly gentrified and divided city?

How can the absurdity of projected futures help us make sense of the present?

In the wake of a new decade of development and economic investment, Pittsburgh is on the rise. In the midst of all this progress, the city struggles to hold on to her roots, caught between preserving monuments of her industrial past and pursuing a new technological future.

In this studio on future fictions, a  projected constructed narrative of Pittsburgh shows the city as playground, with preserved monuments of curated culture acting as psychedelic pit stops on a tourist trap rollercoaster ride around the city. These infected architectural statements stand tribute to iconic artifacts in her history, infused with random and electric elements from a past present to create a new culture, bright and effervescent. This project proposes a Pittsburgh that is frozen in the past, hell-bent on preserving its culture and identity even while the rest of it has fallen to ruin. 

Fourth Year Studio - Future Fictions

Fall 2019

A City Reclaimed

 

The Creature takes its first wobbly steps onto the freshly poured asphalt of another new Pittsburgh highway. Delicately balanced on four menacing clawed limbs around a metal exoskeleton, is the body of a gothic cathedral reminiscent of Pittsburgh’s First Presbytarian Church, infected with the last bits of “iconic” Pittsburgh: the embedded houses of the South Side Slopes, the rotting remains of Pittsburgh’s familiar yellow bridges, and the steaming carcasses of her former steel industry. Ketchup bottles, town house moldings, and Picklesburgh balloons cling lifelessly to The Creature’s exoskeleton bringing with it an image of what the city used to be.

 

Many years have passed since any of these elements were seen on Pittsburgh ground. Where there once stood quirky cultural icons, identical giants of steel and glass take their place. The Old Gods of this city have been driven out and displaced, forgotten in favour of a new religious fervour for Tech and Industry. What is left is a monotonous wasteland, overspent, overdeveloped. Pittsburgh has been starved off its culture, bled dry of its vibrancy and left a hollow host for a Silicon Valley imitation with a fickle following. 

 

Birthed of fire and brimstone from steel mills left retired to rust, the Creature is a child of the forgotten Pittsburgh, sent to avenge a city wronged. It rises from a cloud of pollution of its own making, heaving its groaning body on a rampage to restore the City to its rightful course. 

 

Wherever it passes, it awakens forgotten vibrancy of a Pittsburgh past. Buildings downtown shed their repetitive shiny exteriors, revealing the brightly painted facades of the Mexican war streets, and parks and trees sprout in the cracked pavement where the creature’s claws set foot, seeding a new Pittsburgh filled with curves, color, and life.

 

Fourth Year Studio - Future Fictions

Fall 2019

Eco-morphology

 

How can we design homes that respond to fluctuations in climate conditions?

How can an island that floods be designed for communal use or change the quality of space it affects in positive ways?

How can a building harness energy to be both performative and experiential?

How can a housing typology respond to different inhabitant needs and family types?

How can mapping and computational diagramming tools create a feedback loop that inspires form and space?

Given a site in Pittsburgh that floods yearly, the studio proposes an urban housing development that can respond to these conditions, and further harness the environmental conditions of the site in performative ways. The project focuses on wind energy for energy production and designs for a future where modular housing construction allows for variability in homes to accommodate a range of occupants. Each unit is specialized to the occupant size and lifestyle, much like how the island and its public spaces are organised around different community types and their needs. 

Third Year Studio - Environment, Form and Function

Fall 2018

Environmental Charter School Pittsburgh

 

How can a school serve both its student body and the neighborhood community?

How can a building blur the line between the urban and natural environment?

How can building envelope and material assembly be energy efficient, educational and experiential?

What is the process for constructing a building in Pittsburgh beyond design development? What is the moral and professional imperative of the architect in this process?

This studio focused on the refining our mastery of materials and construction methods in the clarification of a sustainable and energy efficient design for the Environmental Charter School Pittsburgh. The eventual approach recognizes the need for distinctly different spaces to fulfill the school’s unique educational pedagogy, thus dividing the program into three separate building blocks, each with their own functional purposes, structural language and experiential qualities. The corridors between these blocks then become important circulatory spaces, allowing the school to act as a semi permeable connector between the urban street and the great outdoors. The building combines passive and active design strategies to serve energy efficiency and didactic purposes to fulfill the ECS legacy of learning beyond the classroom. 

Third Year Studio - Sustainability and Assembly

Spring 2018

Saco Lake Bath House

 

What relationship should a building have with a vast natural forest?

Should a bathhouse unfold in a predicted path, or leave one to find their own passage through a variety of spaces?

How can water and light become additional building materials in a building that is intended to be experienced in sequences?

How can a space be made to feel precious, such that its inhabitant can relish the privacy of a public bathhouse?

Rather than a single building, the approach to this bathhouse was to create a compound for varied experiences. The rustic wood and concrete bath village perched among the trees and nestled against a backdrop of breathtaking mountains seeks to connect visitors with their natural environment through the varying layers of connection to the outdoors. Inspired by my own experiences in Japanese Onsens, the design of separate but synchronized journeys through the bathhouse allows the privacy for complete vulnerability to the elements. The entire project is an exploration of contrasts - between hot and cold thermal sensations, between the privacy of the bathing experience and the social conditions of a bathhouse, between the lightness of wood and the heaviness the concrete and between the movements from indoor to outdoor, enclosed to open, light to dark. 

Second Year Studio - Material Integration

Fall 2018

Office Building

 

How can an office building serve both corporate and community purposes?

What does it mean for a building to be porous? 

How do we create an environment for productivity and space efficiency without being stifling?

Studies have consistently shown the positive effects of exposure to nature on the working and fatigued mind. The primary idea for this building is to create a central winter garden atrium around which different working levels are organized. The result is an office environment made of spaces of various sizes and degrees of privacy punctuated with outdoor balconies. The atrium doubles up as a amphitheater, the lobby as a public corridor green space and the building gives back to the neighborhood it is built in. 

A detailed code review of egress and occupancy of the building was done, as well as the material assembly used in construction.

Second Year Studio - Material Integration

Fall 2018

Computational Design Structures

What is the relationship between algorithmic progression and design intent?

How can a set of rules predict variation and iteration for a more rigorous design process?

In this class on the fundamentals of computational design, Grasshopper and other relevant plugins were used to generate a variety of compelling spaces that would respond to various stimulus. 

Projects were imaginary, often unrealistic, but predictive of a future world and the possibilities of parametricism and technology. 

Projects were done in collaboration with Johnathan Liang, Michael Longo, Emmanuel Nwandu and Rachel Lu. 

Second Year Class - Fundamentals of Computational Design

Fall 2018

Sankofa Garden

How can a community garden both resonate history and pave the way for a new future?

How can a new architecture remain respectful of existing structures while reflecting new technologies?

What is the role of the architect or designer in crafting collaborative spaces?

The Sankofa garden is a community garden in the food desert neighborhood of North Braddock. It serves as both a source of sustenance for families in the community and a educational center for children and volunteers. The design for the center respects the enormous effort put in my the community leaders in creating this haven and grants them as well as the users of the garden autonomy in creating their own paths through the garden. The humble and delicate framework of spaces seeks to encourage gathering and interaction instead of enforcing it. The single brick building that stands on the site is protected and supplemented with aesthetic green walls that announce the center's contribution to the neighborhood. 

Second Year Studio - Grow Collective

Fall 2017