CCA Urban Studio Course Allows Architecture Students to See Manhattan in New Light
Posted on Tuesday, January 19, 2010 by Brenda Tucker
This past summer, as part of the Architecture curriculum, Urban Studio 3 students took a field trip to New York to study one of the many vast metropolises of the United States—Manhattan!
The Urban Studio 3 course "conducts in-depth analysis of New York based on individual experiences and materials gathered from the class field trip. The course seeks to negotiate between personal cognitive mappings of the city and instructive map/guides in order to populate the studio program with a critical regional, urbanistic understanding." (Read complete course description.)
Led by Coordinator of Architecture Jason Anderson, along with Architecture faculty members Craig Scott and Andrew Kudless, we spent three days exploring Manhattan. Each day we explored parts of the Big Apple and squeezed in time to visit the project site, located at 507-513 West 19th Street.
The trip was scheduled in an orderly fashion, allowing us to explore all of Manhattan in three sections: Lower, Midtown (or Mid-Manhattan), and Upper Manhattan. Renowned architecture firm Diller and Scofidio designed the High Line, an old, elevated railroad system, which runs on the west coastline of Manhattan, into a recreational space.
To inspire our goal of designing a connection with the High Line and our proposed building, we explored the High Line first because it ran adjacent to our site. The High Line is located on Manhattan's West Side. It runs from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to 34th Street, between 10th and 11th Avenues. Section 1 of the High Line, which opened to the public on June 9, 2009, runs from Gansevoort Street to 20th Street.
Accompanying Architecture faculty members were selected to lead the expedition based on their existing knowledge of Manhattan and previous work history with well-known architecture firms in the area. Faculty member Jason Anderson led the journey on the first day throughout Lower Manhattan; Craig Scott led the second day in Midtown; and Andrew Kudless led the last day in Upper Manhattan. Readings and lectures were held in preparation for the project
Because we hoped to visit as many buildings as possible, each instructor was challenged with quickly providing key points and successful design qualities for each visited building. With Jason, we explored Lower Manhattan and observed many various buildings and sites, including visiting Ground Zero, the reconstruction site of the Twin Towers.
Our group was divided into thirds at the end of the second and third days, allowing each instructor to take students to visit various architecture offices such as Lewis Tsuramaki Lewis Architects, Polshek Partnership Architects, and Bernard Tschumi Architects. I visited Lewis Tsuramaki Lewis Architects and Bernard Tschumi Architects.
While we had hoped to meet some of the principal architects, none was available during our visits. However, assistant architects and project managers were on hand to lead office tours and share several of their projects, including those of domestic and international scopes.
Upon returning to San Francisco, we all had to quickly get to work on our studio projects, as assignments were issued every two weeks throughout the semester, each one tackling a specific part of the project.
Our first group assignment was to do basic research and analysis of the two districts where our site was located: the Chelsea Market and Meat Packing districts. For my project I concentrated on such specific conditions as density of land use by commercial, industrial, and residential spaces.
The next step in the design process was to figure out how the intention of our design could incorporate a program consisting of a hotel, art gallery, gym spaces, and a café. Most of our projects’ design intentions were derived from identifying a certain condition from our site and mapping analysis.
Accordingly, after I noticed the land use of spaces related to the aforementioned conditions, each of the floors in my programming, too, has a density of programs, yet I realized some within a block radius will remain constant because more of the land was used by a particular condition. Working with massing models we were able to make quick decisions as to how the programs would be arranged throughout our building.
The final step in the design process was to design a “skin” that envelopes the entire building—a per formative skin that seeks to enrich the project’s intent. The floor plates will undulate outward where hotel spaces exist and, conversely, undulate inward where public spaces are, which collectively become the skin of my building.
Lastly, we had an option to design a connection from the High Line to our building. My project sought out to bring in the public from the High Line giving them direct access to a public gallery space.
Architecture faculty members Andrew Kudless and Lisa Findley each gave me positive feedback and insight each day to advance my project, and I in turn received a greater understanding of how architecture works and responds to the embodiment of space.
Architecture student Michael Chang was born and raised in Long Beach. He transferred to CCA from Long Beach City College and is now in his junior year in the Architecture Program. After graduating from CCA, he hopes to start his own practice. Michael also assists in the college's Communications Office as part of the Federal Work-Study program at CCA.
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