Study Models

Since our first review in October, we have progressed elements of our design that were undeveloped or underdeveloped. Working through different media – sketching, digital, and especially physical modeling – has played a vital role in our continued progress with the project Here are some images showing the development of our structure through a variety of study models.

Below is a section diagram we presented at a second mid-review on November 12. As you can see, it integrates the structural system developed in study models above.

Also here is a detailed 1/16″ scale study model of the atrium that we built before the second review.

Our final review will be on Saturday, December 11. The next two weeks will largely be spent preparing final models and presentation materials for the final review.

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Progress at First Mid-Review

Below is the schematic building model we presented at our first review (1/32″ scale) and our initial site plan, which was particularly well-received by the reviewers.

First study model of velodrome
Original 1/32″ study model presented at first mid-review. View from street side with glass atrium and entry terrace.

Initial Site Plan Design
Original Site Plan presented at first mid-review. The site strategy is to enhance the access between the river and adjacent residential neighborhood to the north by extending the axis of a local street to the river with a new pedestrian promenade. Open green space is preserved to the west. A large public terrace wraps around a glass atrium facing the street to accommodate event crowds and conceal a parking garage underneath.

Next post I will share images of new study models that develop a structural system and clarify other aspects of the design.

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October Mid-Review

This is a video of our critique at our studio’s first mid-review held today (Oct. 18). Jamin begins by introducing our design at this point and then I elaborate on site design and our method to contextualize with the adjacent neighborhood and the city as a whole.

Our critics were three faculty members in the College of Design: Nadia Anderson, Ann Sobiech-Munson, and Dean Emeritus Mark Engelbrecht. I believe our review went quite well and provided valuable feedback for moving forward from this point. It is clear our next step will be to integrate a thoughtful structural system into our aesthetic gesture, which will better clarify building and technical specifications of the design.

Select comments from the critics:

“I think there’s something that’s really working about what you’ve presented here. It’s maybe not necessarily this as an aesthetic so much as some of your sensitivities to the human scale and the way that this form kind of responds to the things around it.”
         – Assistant Professor Ann Sobiech-Munson

“I think there’s a language that’s developed out of this that I really appreciate, the relationship between the building itself and the site around it…”
         – Assistant Professor Nadia Anderson

“I think it, for me, expresses this idea of speed and discipline very I’d be very interested to moving on, you can imagine the idea…”
         – Dean Emeritus Mark Engelbrecht

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Cambridge Site Visit

Three weeks ago we were in Boston and were able to analyze our site more in depth and experientially. As always, it was not quite as we expected – there’s only so much reconnaissance that can be gained through aerial views and Google Street View.

Our site is located in Cambridge between the banks of the Charles River and Memorial Drive which parallels the water. MIT’s campus is very near our site to the east and Harvard University is about a 10-15 minute walk westward. A distinctly urban, yet domestic residential neighborhood lies to the north, screened from the roadway by a one-story K-8 public school. Memorial Drive that bounds the north edge of our site was less hazardous than anticipated, despite quite heavy traffic during weekday rush hour.

The Boston University Bridge on the eastern edge provides vehicular and pedestrian access to the site from the MBTA Green Line and Boston University campus across the river. A viaduct carries Memorial Drive thru traffic over a large traffic circle at the intersection with the bridge. The traffic circle seems somewhat unnecessary and complicates pedestrian access from the residential area to the north, however the greatest hindrance is the visual and mental barrier created by the overpass.

The site currently is open green space with a soccer field, baseball diamond, and a third smaller athletic field. When I visited Sunday afternoon it was quite active with a soccer match going on and joggers out. In between fields are swails of native tall grasses and a earthen walking path runs along the river bank. Small trees and shrubbery crowd/hug the river bank so views are limited. The scale of the site is challenging to comprehend in relative terms. With no large buildings or structures bounding the space it is hard to get a sense of scale. Therefor it was not easy imagining a large velodrome facility in place there.

We went away with a clearer understanding of the scale and composition of our site’s surrounding and from where most spectators would likely arrive from (the Green Line across the BU Bridge). This has reinforced our notions about site orientation, circulation, and how to best [re]connect the residential neighborhood to the river.

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Vid-Up #1

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We have spent much of the first few weeks working to integrate ideas from our initial individual study models, while clarifying details related to site, circulation, context, and programmatic requirements. Our initial ideas appeared to be contradictory in form and priorities, but we have began to fuse concepts together as one, much stronger scheme.

In our first individual study models, Jamin’s primary scheme had a very expressive, curving form as seen below, where as I focused more on articulating circulation, announcing entries, and an attempt at relating to what I assumed to be “urban” context along the street edge through a more regular, rectangular composition. Sara’s models were also curved and explored possible concepts for structure. You can read more about our initial models here.

We quickly agreed that the overall architectural form needs to be expressive of the velodrome/function inside (ie. probably round). My initial concern about a curved form is it can easily read as a single object rather than a composition broken up with facade that helps related to human scale and other less program-specific buildings nearby. How to create anchors from a curved form also seemed challenging, since it has no corners to extend or cut out. Working through more model iterations, detailed studies, sections, and sketches, we began refining a form with notions of circulation, anchoring entrances, and site relationship.

Through section we have began developing gestures to create a better pedestrian connection with the adjacent residential neighborhood grid north of the site across Memorial Drive. By building up the ground plane, imagined as angular segments (think Seattle’s sculpture park), we extend park / public plaza space over the road engaging the neighborhood. The main entry elevated about street level accommodates an initial seating strategy to enter at concourse level, and also can conceal parking underneath the concourse and the new built up, exterior space.

The angular land conditioning really helped begin to anchor entrances and create a more angular facade treatment along the street. After analyzing the site, we anticipate a large majority of spectators will arrive from the east side, coming over the Boston University bridge from the Green Line T stop right across the river on Commonwealth Ave. Additionally Harvard University is just west up the road bounding our site, and MIT is to the east. The proposed pedestrian connection to the adjacent neighborhood to the north is more of a contextual gesture, as we do not expect an enormous number of spectators arriving from that direction. The Green Line, MIT, and Harvard will likely be where the vast majority of spectators arrive from.

The new rectangular treatment along the street side articulates a primary main entrance on the east end with an angular anchor protruding outward. A secondary entrance would be on the northwest corner where the public space will be built out over the road (see first photo below). Since the most expressive part of the building is it’s tilting lean south and eastward toward the river, we extended the main entrance anchor through to that space. Spectators will be directed in that direction for a large, dramatic concourse space underneath the upper tiers of seating (which would form much of the overhang). A smaller concourse would run along the front side, of course, that provides access to the seating on the north side and connects to the secondary entrance.

We travel to Boston tomorrow for five days, during which we will visit the site and experience the diverse architecture and urbanism the city has to offer.

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Welcome to our new project blog. We are architecture students at Iowa State University currently engaged in 5th Year Comprehensive studio fro Fall 2010. Our prescribed project this year is breaking the mold of previous trends here in the College of Design, with a less conventional program: a 12,000 seat velodrome (indoor cycling track). Traditionally this studio has culminated in a mediateque, a library, for an urban site in Boston, Massachusetts. The new program we are beginning this fall remains in the Boston urban area, on a much more open site in Cambridge looking out over the Charles River.

We are now entering our fourth week of studio and will be traveling to Boston this coming Thursday to visit the site and experience the commendable architecture and urbanism the city has to offer. In the first three weeks we have explored conceptual themes and began to investigate programming requirements, urban context, and site circulation. We have also been exploring architectural forms and strategies for situating the program appropriately on the site, which presents space, access, and contextual challenges.

We are establishing this blog as a way to document our process, explore ideas in literary form, and critique our own work. We hope this will entail a diverse mix of writing, photographs, sketches, digital modeling, and videos. Our intention is to clarify and refine our priorities to ultimately produce a final architectural design that articulates a clear conceptual and pragmatic understanding of the building, its formal expression and how it engages the greater community.

Our project team includes Brady Dorman, Jamin Nollsch, and Sara Schmerbach. Our studio critic is Mitchell Squire.

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