Evan Orf

MArch I

Animate Characters for a Potential City 

Advised by Andrew Holder

St. Louis has character. St. Louis is full of characters. 

Since the frenetically baroque Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904 positioned St. Louis as the next great American city, architects and politicians have treated the city as a testing ground for civic identity. Policies have fluctuated between preservation and eminent domain. Incentives have prioritized both urban flight and urban renewal. The city’s built institutions have woven a transhistorical web of borrowed symbols—from the Diocletian vaults of the Art Museum to the Chateauesque peaks of City Hall. 

This agglomeration of abandoned potentials and one-off experiments forms an urban legibility based not on clarity or style or form, but on common character. St. Louis becomes a collection of micro-expressions, individual buildings— characters—each with their own psychological associations and symbolic meaning in relation to their functions and history. They overlap sometimes. They share references and meanings. They paint a hazy, disjointed picture of St. Louis’s fraught history that never quite forms a whole. 

This project, a library and public archive on the site of the historic Lemp Brewery, seeks a new institutional identity for a city whose recent resurgence can be attributed more to the will of its citizens than to the top-down interventions that formed it. Building on methods of character animation and animate architecture from Chuck Jones to Greg Lynn and beyond, this new library attempts to reflect the animate, charged heterogeneity of the city’s institutions while proposing a new empathetic character and potential future for the city. 

Evan Orf, MArch I. Rendering of an industrial building surrounded with buildings drawn in a crude style.
Evan Orf, MArch I.
Model: Characters and Stuff.
Evan Orf, MArch I.
Model: Silo Courtyard.
Evan Orf, MArch I.
Character Sheet: Shiftstep.

Evan Orf, MArch I.
Character Animation: “CHOMP”.
Evan Orf, MArch I.
Character Animation: “Another Surprise!”.

Fan Lu

MArch I

Work-Scape: Toward the Thermal Hygge

Advised by Holly Samuelson

Thermal qualities—warm, cool, radiant, airy—are an important part of our experience in a space. However, these thermal experiences are often oversimplified in architectural design considerations by tempering the indoor environment to a homogeneous room temperature. Despite being standardized people with a fixed and unchanging thermal preference of 21°C, occupants have a wide range of thermal needs that largely depend on what spaces we gather around and what activities are going on.

The increasing demand of sustainability also brings about questioning the necessity to cool/heat a building to a desired temperature everywhere. New cooling and heating technologies, such as radiant systems, have already begun changing architectural design, saving a considerable space in floor height, and brought the potential of target cooling/heating with an environment open to nature. With a provocation that the thermal function of building and thermal comfort to accommodate various people could be used as an effective element of design, this project seeks to strengthen the relationship between people and thermal environments. Taking the emerging coworking/coliving culture as an opportunity, this thesis challenges us to redefine a working and living space that has a diversity of atmospheres and brings back thermal experiences, which can act as a catalyst for social activities.

Against the homogeneity of the modern climate, the new coworking/coliving space serves as a vehicle for people to embrace thermal delight—a fresh gentle breeze back into the modern, enclosed glass box.

Fan Lu, MArch I. Architectural plan. Three circular areas are highlighted in pink that fades into the surrounding area. Red arrows surround the plan on all four sides pointing away from the center.
Fan Lu, March I. Thermal zone section and render of the Ramp.
Fan Lu, March I. Thermal zone section and render of the Rings.
Fan Lu, March I. Thermal zone section and render of the Auditorium.
Fan Lu, March I. Thermal zone section and render of the Sunken Room.
Fan Lu, March I. Elevation.

Isa He

MArch I

Designing Responsive Architecture: Human-Building Coevolving

Advised by Jeffry Burchard

Why is architecture thought of as static while its occupants are dynamic? What if architecture was not a building of programmatic requirements but dynamic and responsive to the rituals, habits, and behaviors of its occupants? Could we imagine architecture as living artifact, expressing its internal complexity by coevolving with its users? Could we imagine a different human-building relationship?

The traditional understanding of our relationship to buildings is that we shape our buildings and afterward our buildings shape us. However, buildings are commissioned by clients and designed by architects who rarely inhabit those buildings. In this world, our relationship with architecture is one-sided and the nuances of our daily activities are lost in its static-ness. As users, we continuously reappropriate and modify spaces as more isolated and disjointed ad hoc interventions.

What if architecture was in continuous dialogue with its occupants to produce spaces and spatial relations that can better suit their changing needs? As the pace of technological innovation picks up, mobility industries face a rapidly evolving landscape. I propose a research and production facility for first- and last-mile mobility vehicles as a vessel for investigation where user groups jointly choreograph the spatial evolution of the building, spanning different temporal and physical scales. The transformations reflect the myriad of hidden external forces pressing upon near-future factories.

Isa He, MArch I. 
Three cross-section illustrations of a building.
Isa He, MArch I. 
Responsive Architecture: St. Gall Transformation.
Isa He, MArch I. 
Responsive Architecture: Urban Automobile Factory Plans + Program.

Matthew Moffitt

MArch I

Leftovers

Advised by Sergio Lopez-Pineiro

From the next major earthquake in Los Angeles’s San Fernando Valley, a field of rubbish will emerge: overturned transmission frames, distorted steel members, split freeway columns, freestanding chimneys, detached plywood roof panels, landslide blocks, fallen troughs, and debris slides; each having an intrinsic tactility, dimensionality, proportion, scale, texture, and rear-facing nostalgia.

Iñaki Ábalos writes of castoffs: “Against luxury, bourgeois comfort . . . there arises an idea of space based on the decontextualization and proliferation of trivial objects that, once re-contextualized, acquire an aesthetic meaning . . . a creative parasitism of the production/consumption cycle.” This thesis takes rubbish as its medium, that which emerges not from newness and novelty, but rather from longstanding duration. Just as the log cabin comes from the trees of the forest, the leftover dwelling is conceived of using the rubbish of the earthquake.

Traditionally, the individual spaces of the dwelling are bound to a fixed, positive notion of function and duration of use. In this hypothetical condition, the latent spatial value of the as-found artifact is activated through tactile design operations such as abutments to traditional construction methods, unexpected surface finishes, flexible custom furniture, scalar mismatches, and casting procedures. The tectonic measures necessary to juxtapose the residual, de-signified castoffs of the earthquake with quotidian design methods may render visible enigmatic and unforeseen ways of living.

Matthew Moffitt, MArch I. Rendering of various broken pieces of infrastructure on a blue background.
Matthew Moffitt, MArch I.
Trough house : isometric drawing.
Matthew Moffitt, MArch I.
Freeway house : isometric drawing.
Matthew Moffitt, MArch I.
Outlet house : isometric drawing.
Matthew Moffitt, MArch I.
Trough house : perspective drawing.
Matthew Moffitt, MArch I.
Freeway house : perspective drawing.

Kaoru Lovett

MArch I

A Stubborn Room: Re-Inscriptions

Advised by Tomás de Paor

A strange precedent is persisting in Hawaii—snow-shedding roofs perch on tropical shelters as unused attics, walls frame expression more than buffer climate, houses are weighted rather than tied to foundations—architectural features that originally spoke a colonial dialect have become expressively mute. The persistent copy and paste of the colonial house is repeated so relentlessly that specific meaning is no longer held through architecture and, rather, lies somewhere in this stubborn redundancy.

The lanai, as an architectural element, has not been repeated but translated, eventually abbreviated in both form and meaning to a porch or balcony. Absent of an archetypal predecessor, the lanai differentiates from the architectural characteristics of the stubborn colonial house as the space lacks any agenda when regarding typical spatial metrics—form, program, environment.

If the cultural preservation of the stubborn house indicates that meaning in architecture, within the context of contemporary Hawaii, is derived from the image, then this project is to work through a process of image making as a means to inscribe meaning back into the domestic space. The construction of an image of the lanai will work as a testing ground for alternatives of embedding signification, without the crutch of a preexisting language structure, into the traditional architecture of Hawaii.

Kaoru Lovett, MArch I. Painting of a two-story residential house with wrap-around porches. In front is a gate with a large yard, and a large mountain is visible in the background.
Kaoru Lovett, MArch I. House 1 Room. Interior with table in center and arched roof.
Kaoru Lovett, MArch I. House 2 Room. Interior with staircase and plywood walls.
Kaoru Lovett, MArch I. House 3 Room. Covered room with gravel floor and open walls to the outside.
Kaoru Lovett, MArch I. Iterative Photo Box Models.
Kaoru Lovett, MArch I. Final Models.

David Ling

MArch I

Gigantic Miniature

Advised by Martin Bechthold

The standard of timber construction is no longer the linear member, but the planar sheet. In both appearance and processing, cross-laminated timber resembles, at full scale, the rigid sheet materials used for model-making in the architectural design studio. Taken further, the resemblances between these materials go beyond likeness to become sameness, issuing a conceptual collapse between the representational object and the original, between the process of design and the process of construction. This project addresses these convergences by reconceptualizing the role of the physical model in the process of design, attempting to define a novel architectural expression through the tension found between the ontological and the representational status of full-scale model-making material.

The model is normally a representation; it isn’t the real thing. We’ve collectively agreed to gloss over the medium itself, allowing loosely fit joints, propped walls, warped floors and laser burns to slip past us like static from a speaker. But a naive gaze reveals something different: the imprecisions inherent to the model’s construction, previously discarded as the noise of the medium, begin to form a syntax that could be described as a “studio vernacular.” The elements of this aesthetic form an ontological overlay to the representational surface of the model, inflecting the designer’s intended meaning with the grunts and sighs that index its material properties and constructional processes. Combining the representational-ontological tension embodied by the physical model with the scalar ambiguity resulting from CLT’s affinities to model-making material, this project takes on the multi-unit dwelling in the city of Vancouver to define a contemporary timber aesthetic paradoxically described as the Gigantic Miniature.

David Ling, MArch I. Two models of human figures, one much larger than the other, standing among models of geometric forms and foam-core walls.

Dohyun Lee

MArch I

Déjà Vu Architecture: Learning from My Past Homes

Advised by Jon Lott

I am looking at my past homes to see if they have any common threads of principles that can be shared with the discipline of architecture. My hypothesis is that past homes are significant pieces of architectural experiences, but they are hard to analyze, rationalize, and use as valid precedents to design a building. I am constructing physical models of my past homes inhabited between 1993 and 2016 solely based on my memory, piece by piece and in close focus after focus, in order to visualize my subconscious reading of their form and space. Through this way of recollection, I am attempting to discover and rationalize their architectural merits as if they are historical precedents. My goal is to design a building with their merits. Through my thesis, I am trying to show the potential of self-reflective precedents in architectural design.

Dohyun Lee, MArch I. 
Physical models of my past homes.
Dohyun Lee, MArch I. 
Home 6.
Dohyun Lee, MArch I. 
Plan drawings.

Dohyun Lee, MArch I. 
Scene 3.
Dohyun Lee, MArch I. 
Scene 4.
Dohyun Lee, MArch I. 
Scene 7.

Peteris Lazovskis

MArch I

Sensitization: Functional Physiognomies for Mass Housing

Advised by John May and Jonathan Grinham

The facade of a building is its face to the world. As such, it has the potential to express what the building stands for. With few exceptions, the exteriors of mass housing projects convey either a dedication to cost concerns, or to aesthetics considered appealing. However, building facades can reveal unique character if sculpted by interwoven systems responding to localized physiological needs and climate peculiarities—pertinent to societies globally, as they begin to redress the environmental disregard with which many standardized residential ensembles have been designed. This provides an opportunity to rethink the face of mass housing.

The serially deployed apartment blocks within the former Soviet Union epitomize this challenge. Designed with a narrow set of principles for construction efficiency, maximum component repeatability, and minimum aesthetic variety, these relatively identical buildings appear in different climates, housing different cultures. Currently, entire neighborhoods are approaching structural expiration, and refurbishment attempts generally treat the Soviet inheritance as an eyesore, to be masked, reconfigured, or demolished.

This thesis, instead, proposes to sensitize the building bodies to their respective milieux, by coupling the material properties of their internal structures to new, articulated skins. Set in a Soviet-era district in Riga, Latvia, the project materializes northern climate considerations—low levels of sunlight, concerns about ventilation and heat loss, and a legacy of vernacular hearths in the “home”—into a network of functional geometries that is mapped onto the existing concrete armatures.

Thus, an expanded definition of environmental considerations allows the interaction of their spatial pressures to generate surface variety, resulting in physiognomies unique to their setting. This hybrid assembly of efficient frame and idiosyncratic facade suggests a new architectural model for mass housing.

Peteris Lazovskis, MArch I. Photograph of a hand holding a grid-like model made of wood.

Vivian Ho In Kuong

MArch I

New New England Church

Advised by Mark Lee

What is the significance of religious architecture today, if there is any? The program of the church in America has, over the past few centuries, undergone significant typological, social, and cultural transformations: from the first wooden New England meeting house of the 1600s to the Romanesque revival of the 19th century, to today being absorbed into a type of American big box architecture. This thesis uses the backdrop of Plymouth, Massachusetts, to investigate the development of New England churches and their history and asks the question: What is the role of architecture in religious buildings? 

In 1938, the German architect Rudolf Schwarz stated that the postwar task of the time was “to build churches out of that reality which we experience and verify every day.”1 Rather than reminiscing on the nostalgic past of the church as an institution, this thesis reconsiders the church as it is currently and how architecture can facilitate its activities. The struggle between big box and cathedral, banal and numinous, institutional and communal, symbol and anti-symbol, duck and shed is manifested through a series of wall constructions that express these dilemmas as a struggle between the free section and the free plan. 

Given the events of a typical Sunday service, the proposal creates a novel way of looking at the sequential progression of the service in addition to the physical construction of a new New England church. 

1 Rudolf Schwarz, The Church Incarnate: The Sacred Function of Christian Architecture (Chicago: Henry Regnery Company, 1958). 

Vivian Ho In Kuong, MArch I. Eight black and white pencil drawings of rectangles filled with different geometric shapes.
Vivian Ho In Kuong, MArch I. 
The New New England Church critiques the big box typology which has subsumed the typology of the church and reinterprets vernacular construction techniques, materials, and design strategies which rethink the role of symbolism, sanctity, and profanity in religious buildings today.
Vivian Ho In Kuong, MArch I. 
View of approach from main street.
Vivian Ho In Kuong, MArch I. 
Standing from the worship space, you can view directly through the sermon area into the communion table. The structural rhythm and light quality changes in the different volume as seen in this view.
Because of the rigid wall, the flexibility of the floor create the potential for free section in the project. Floor are free in relation to their height and width. Sometimes acting as bridge, and sometimes acting as a tube containing space.
Vivian Ho In Kuong, MArch I.
This shows how the church is used on a typical Sunday service.
The top part of the plan is processional, and the bottom part is simultaneous

Minyong Kim

MArch I

Preserving through Rebuilding: A Radical Preservation Method for Densifying Urban Context

Advised by Andrew Witt

The growing density of urban context has triggered urban renewal projects in big cities. However, as the projects only preserved the buildings and sites with very high historic value, the cities lost the architectural heritage (such as style or internal spatial logic) of some neighborhoods. Opposingly, other cities that learned from them have decided to preserve entire neighborhoods, failing to respond to the high demand of densification. 

This thesis proposes a new mode of preservation that bridges between the two extreme modes. Taking a similar attitude as Rem Koolhaas’s preservation idea for Beijing that did not deliberately select what buildings should be preserved, this thesis also does not examine the historic value of each building. Rather, it focuses on saving the most prevalent typologies in each neighborhood in a city. The technical component of this thesis performs a 3-D scan of every building in Boston to select the typologies in each neighborhood, stack their volumes on a new site, and rebuild their facade’s geometric texture and spaces. The resulting gaps between the stacked buildings are designed to provide interstitial spaces that connect different buildings with different programs together. With this method, this thesis aims to preserve important qualities of the representative building typologies of all neighborhoods in a city, as well as to provide opportunities for densification. 

Minyong Kim, MArch I. Renderings of nine black and white geometric buildings on a red background.