Yuming Feng

MArch II

James Templeton Kelley Prize, Masters in Architecture II 

American Brick and the Difficult Whole

Nothing engages more in the dialogue of “rationalism in material” than brick. On the one hand, the structural nature of brick was rendered meaningless in front of the modern need for large and flexible spaces; on the other hand, the critique on the new construction systems as cold and indifferent makes the cultural aspects of brick more important than ever.

As a multicultural center in Rice University, this project tries to establish a new ground for brick architecture in which the brick fulfills both its structural value and cultural purpose.

In this project, the image is a brick architecture that inherits the material tradition of the campus; the content, which led to the use of timber, is an architecture with various scales of programs. However, the coexistence of the timber interior and brick facade immediately breaks the continuity between the content and context.

To address this discontinuity, the brick facade was designed to speak to the campus with order, symmetry, and proportion while responding to the interior with “material transfer” which gives it the characters of timber. Moreover, the facade uses “diaphragm bonding” to perform structurally with timber. In this way, the brick not only “decorates the shed” but also participates actively in other fronts of the architecture.

The four columns at the center are the architectural summary of the project that reiterates the theme – material transfer. The details to distinguish the four columns focus on how they meet the ground and the roof, expressing clearly the construction logics of the original and transferred materials.

Drawing of the facade of a long, rectangular, three-story brick building.

Close up of facade of three story brick building next to a section drawing showing people and desks on the different levels.

Detail axonometric drawing showing wall construction and levels with railings.

Animation showing the different levels of a large rectangular building from ground floor to top floor.

Plan drawing of a rectangular building on the edge of a tree-lined street.

Line drawings of joint details.

Rendering of the main entrance of a 3 story rectangular brick building with grassy landscape in front.

Rendering of interior lobby of a three story brick building showing a large room rising up to roof skylights and balconies of two upper floors.

Rendering of interior of a three-story brick building showing a large room which is open to balconies from upper floors and roof skylights.

Rendering of a large interior room with chairs and tables and balconies on the floors above.

Exterior rendering of a large three story rectangular brick building in front of a manicured lawn with granite pathways.

Rendering of a large plaza with a fountain and manicured lawns, surrounded by multiple large rectangular buildings made of brick or stone.