-thesis-summer 2008

The design of my thesis is in full swing! I chose the site of my design to be in the new urbanist community of Ivy Hall, located in Chicago, Illinois. Ivy Hall is located adjacent to the University of Illinois, and consists of 152 condominiums, 31 town-homes, 36 single-family homes, commercial/retail/restaurant facilities, and part of the student housing for the university. The location and design of Ivy Hall has an efficient impact within and outside of the community, as transportation is cut down, and community gathering is emphasized. For my thesis, I am focusing on the student housing buildings, which are located in Ivy Hall, but are owned by the university. The buildings are located on the historic Halsted Street, home to the start of the Blues Brothers! When Ivy Hall was designed and constructed, many challenges were taken to preserve the structures and materials that the local community had grown to love throughout the years. The facades of each building were restored to resemble the originals, and the unused bricks of each facade were laid among the streets of the community. Currently, each student building consist of four levels, with retail on the first level and student apartments on the second, third, and fourth levels. I am converting the third and fourth levels of the building into a series of live/work lofts that will facilitate entrepreneurs who have businesses that directly relate to the specific majors offered at University of Illinois. Therefore, each loft owner must offer a mentoring program to accommodate specific field-related students at UIC.

My thesis will focus on the following studies:

Conceptual Elements: stemming from a core

Mobility [macro to micro] in the following parts:

New Urbanism/Mixed-Use Design
Qualities and Successes of live/work lofts
Learning Theory [learning from mentors and education]

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

moving along

As my design is taking shape, I am finally beginning to see what will and will not work in my space. I presented to my group [Hearts of Hospitality] yesterday. They helped tremendously, and gave me several new ideas of how to make my design more functional in a way that would relate to my concept [stemming from a core]-yes, it changed again!

This image shows a room on level 2 of the live/work loft. Mobility is seen in the retracting bed. When not in use, the underside of the bed can be used as a display, and the space around it becomes open for different functions. A skylight directly above the bed, and floor to ceiling windows allow ample natural light into the environment.

A second view of the room shows a translucent wall that slides from the right side. This provides another option for a public/private space.

A view of the kitchen shows how the open floorplan is full of natural light. Steel columns stem from the central core, connecting the surrounding spaces to it.

From the beginning, I wanted the core of the space to act as a space for collaboration on the first level, and an open living space for the second level. The idea of a retractable floor came into play. The floor would be open during business hours, and a skylight would allow light to pour through the core, providing an experience for collaboration that would take place. When the second level is in use by the owner, the floor could be closed and the space would be used for living. After presenting to my group, this idea did not seem very functional after all. With their input, I was told that this would be a wonderful opportunity to add a stairway to the
core, which would not only emphasize the connection between the live/work spaces, but would be the main source of egress.

Although this image is messy, I wanted to show how the first and second levels connect. The placement of a stairway in the center does make sense. In the core, they would act as the central connection to various spaces within the loft. In this perspective, they seem to be pushed to the side. Rather than adding to it, they take away from necessary square footage and what could be functional space.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


Codes + Ergonomics

Codes and standards are an essential part of designing building interiors, and should become a natural aspect of every project that is designed. Although it sometimes seems as though they get in the way of the conceptual line of thinking, they can be integrated in a thoughtful manner. The bottom line is, the design is for the people who will occupy the space, and your conceptual thinking must be flexible to successfully design a productive and functional environment.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Blue Forest

As I begin to specify natural and artificial lighting 
strategies throughout my design, the idea of creating
experience for the individual comes into play.  "Blue
Forest" is a suspended canopy in an outdoor courtyard,
offering a slot of open sky that casts ever-changing 
shadows along the pathway.  The shadows flow into 
the interior as well, providing contrasting forms on the 
various surfaces throughout.  Blue Forest is a simple 
piece of architecture that creates a fluid silhouette and 
makes a bold statement.  Light flows through the 
negative spaces, casts shadows of the positive forms,
and emphasizes the fact that the organic lines are 
drawing attention to the natural sky above.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Graham Clinard

Graham Clinard is a colleague of mine that I have had the honor of working with throughout my undergrad semesters in Interior Architecture. Graham is also undertaking his thesis project this summer, and during our studio critique on 5/28, I had the opportunity to listen and review his project. On the first day of our summer studio, Graham and I, along with 3 other colleagues: Sarah Scinto, April Hutchens, and Jamie Faris, quickly realized that we had many things in common about our projects. We will collaborate as a small group within our larger studio community to share inspirations, ideas, and motives during our final semester in Interior Architecture.

Graham's thesis will focus on the design of the existing Sharp Building in Canton, North Carolina. The environment within the building will serve as an apartment style to individuals who wish to stay for a short or a long period of time. Graham is particularly interested in exploring revitalization, not only within the building, but within the town and it's people as well. Graham focuses on specific moments that are created throughout each space in his design, each having a detailed characteristic. Many of these moments are expressed by special glimpses, such as a peek out of a window or a small view of the opening of a doorway. He has portrayed a strong interest in the amount of existing detail in the materials on the interior and exterior of the Canton Building, and will continue to explore the opportunities of using these in a modern way for his design. He plans to use rustic materials and colors from the arts and crafts time. The blending of old and new is important to Graham, and will be seen throughout each level of design that will come together to create a unified environment.

The sketch in which I have provided depicts a
view of a hallway in the Canton Building

[1] Though you have thought about universal design in your project, have you thought about how the materials can relate to all of the people, whether they will be there for a short or a long period of time?
[2] Will you have the people who are staying for a short amount of time stay in a separate room than those who are staying for a long amount of time? If so, will the materials change between these rooms? I assume that the durability of materials will be of great importance in your design, as one room may be used by a single person or by multiple individuals.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Visual Narrative

I am new to Chicago, and even newer to the business world. I recently graduated with my bachelor’s degree in design, and my masters in architecture. I am a 25 year old female, with no ties. I have always loved the city, and decided to open a firm. With months of searching and extremely hard work, I found the perfect live/work loft in the Ivy Hall Community, located directly across from the University of Illinois at Chicago. I will be the first occupant and owner of the entire building. Five years ago, this was my dream. Now it is a reality.

I fell in love with my new “home”, and I can run my business directly under my loft. From the front of the building, you can tell there are two stories, but would never know that it is all occupied by the same person. This is the diversity and character that drew me to this building.

Upon entering into my firm on the first floor, the space is completely open. Ceiling heights, windows, partitions, and flooring all contribute to the first impression that is created automatically. There are multiple niches that were seemingly made for me. Many of the structural systems and materials are exposed, leaving a feeling of connection to the space. A variety of heights are seen on the partitions, ceiling, and built-in units, providing quaintness and diversity in the function of the space. Although it is compact, these small details create an open environment. The way in which it has been designed allows me to customize it however I like. I believe I will use the partitions to provide privacy when meeting with clients. I could also use one of them for a workspace, or even a display area. I have windows on three sides of the building, as one side is directly next to another live/work loft that I will, hopefully, be occupied soon. The windows are in all the right places, allowing natural light to flow through the space perfectly. Some are floor to ceiling, others are four feet from the ground, and many are either skinny or wide. This is the variety that I love. As of now, the walls are white. They will change later. After all, I am a designer! The ceiling and floor have varying patterns that also define the spaces of my work environment. I find this incredibly helpful in defining areas.

The stairwell to my loft is concealed by a series of thin columns, which provides privacy and aesthetic appeal. There is also a secured lock with a fingerprint entry. I absolutely love my quant loft. The first thing I notice is how open the space appears, although it is very compact. Floor to ceiling windows surround me, creating beautiful views of the Chicago skyline.

The more open spaces are placed around a central core that houses my bathroom. This is the only space without windows, and that is fully enclosed. The stairwell is placed near skylights, as there are no windows on the walls.

There are several built-in units, allowing for amply storage. Where there is a piece of furniture, there is storage above or underneath. There is a strong resemblance between the first and second floor features, but the differences come in with the functionality of each space. Shelves are built in above some of the open doorways, and on many of the walls that are lining the doorways or certain areas in the walls. This means that they do not take away from open area or floor space. The manner in which the built-in units are manifested helps me maintain organization throughout. My favorite built-in is the window seat that is seen from the entrance onto the second floor. I have always dreamed of having a window seat, and this one has a direct view of Chicago. This is my favorite place to relax. Of course, there is storage underneath the seat, and surrounding me on all sides. It may sound like too much, but it was designed to be subtle and non invasive.

My kitchen is tiny. It is all a 25 year old single needs though. It has all of the modern essentials, with ample storage. It leads to either an open living space, or a small dining area. When I say small and open, it depends on what each space is used for. They do not have to be set living or dining spaces. I could have used them otherwise.
The two spaces that have to be set in stone are the bathroom and kitchen, in which the plumbing, water, and electrical units are in place. The largest space will be used to entertain guests. I love having dinner parties, so I left this space for that.

My bedroom is off of the central core as well, and is on the opposite side of the entertaining area. Eventually, I may move the entertaining area downstairs into a versatile space, but I have to get organized first.

I would like for each space to be a different color, as it will define it as it’s own, and give a personal character to it. Although the spaces are small, the perfect color choices will give a subtle, yet detailed boundary to the environment. One would not think that a space as small as this has so much detail. Oh, but it does! There are many intricate details that are seen in the texture, ceiling, floor, and walls. Texture is found in the door and shelf handles. It is subtle, but it is there. You have to appreciate detail in order to appreciate it.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Friday, May 23, 2008

Preventing alienation in a live/work community

"In a well designed project, residents cross paths as they come and go, and opportunities to socialize arise.  Situations can be created that become settings for interaction, specifically through the design of common spaces and the arrangement of units opening onto them.  This is the most important role design can play in encouraging a sense of community, and the nature of those spaces can make the difference between an alienating structure and a fully functioning community.  It is the entry situation, that transition between the moment one enters the complex and the time one enters one's unit, that provides the greatest opportunities for interaction."
-Thomas Dolan of Thomas Dolan Architecture