Saturday, June 27, 2009

Friday, June 26, 2009

Design Process

Design Process
(For this assignment I was looking at both the whole picture of thesis, as well as last weeks charrette, collectively.)

Overall goals for the site and program:
-Make a connection (something more than a gesture) to Main Street (downtown Berlin).

-Create a historical reference directly to the building - express history through the materials/facades of the building

-Bringing people to Berlin (tourists) by means of providing “entertainment/education” (driven by the program)

-Respect the existing site, its history and the existing structure

-Justify why creating a piece of architecture and a program would create a new “identity” (explain what “identity” is and how my design and program will help to give Berlin a “new identity.)

First, I would like to examine my thesis statement:
Helping a town find a new identity through a brownfield revitalization.
Originally I mentioned something about the site being a “brownfield,” but regardless of the sites condition, I would still select this location as the place to create a “new” identity for the town of Berlin. The site would obviously be cleaned and restored before construction begins - and I will mention it within the bulk of the thesis itself, but I dont believe that the concept of “brownfield” warrants its own part of the thesis title.

In addition, I’m not sure if I should incorporate the word “history” into the title - as it is important that I dont complete ignore the fact that this once was a paper mill (and that was the towns former identity). HOWEVER, although I want the historical aspect to be incorporated (as it is important) - I do not want to get pigeon-holed into creating something that is specifically historic. For example, I dont want my thesis statement to be:
“Creating a new identity for a town through redevelopment and historic preservation.” Considering my program is about NEW Berlin (not historic Berlin) - I think that I should leave “history” out of the statement.
So, for now, my statement reads:
Helping a town acquire a new identity through the revitalization and redevelopment of a former paper mill.

With that in mind, let me review my goals in more detail:

Make a connection (something more than a gesture) to Main Street (downtown Berlin).
By making a visual connection from the building to Main Street, providing architectural elements that create a dialog with the buildings/people in the downtown area. In addition, by creating architectural elements along Main Street (perhaps a “architectural symbol”) that is repeated throughout the town (concentrated mostly on Main Street) will help to emphasize a connection to the site. When I say “symbol” - I mean something that will be a direct architectural reference to the architecture of the site and directly related to the program.
I plan to explore the relationships between the site and Main Street, specifically through the architectural form. I had begun playing with the glass entryways - and the views that were expressed through those “glass corridor.” I think there should be two separate entry ways - one directly from Main Street and the other from the Community Street (which is located on the opposite side of the building). I believe that having two distinct entry sequences will assist with the idea of creating a separate/distinct place for Berlin residents. The other will be primarily for the school/public - although both entries could be accessed by either group.
I think that the entryways should be at meaningful points on the site. With further investigation this weekend, I plan to create models and redesign the view corridor in order to explore and investigate how it should be placed on the site, within the building and how it relates to Main Street/Berlin. (Perhaps it does not face Main Street - perhaps the bridge would be both the visual connection as well as the figurative connection to the town.)

Create a historical reference directly to the building - express history through the materials/facades of the building.
Considering that Berlin was formerly a paper-making town, (as well as “Hockey Town USA” and the first town in the US to have a ski club) - the town clearly has a lot of rich history. Rather than just making an architectural reference to the fact that the site was a former paper mill (ie. using timber) - I want to find a way to architecturally represent the history of the site. Obviously the element of the tower should be kept - wether or not I use the actual tower that is currently on the site, or if I represent it with a glass structure (a reference to what once was) - either way, I think that element is important to the overall “link” to a historic past. On a side note regarding the tower - I am thinking that the tower will be an element that will be part of the interaction within/on the site. I am hoping to create this tower into an observation deck - a place for everyone (all three “types of people”) to utilize and enjoy.

Bringing people to Berlin (tourists) by means of providing “entertainment/education” (driven by the program)
Although the program is not the most important part of the thesis concept, I feel that the program will drive the style of architecture as well as the layout of the plans and the facades. The program will incorporate a satellite school for NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School), as well as a space strictly for Berlin residents. I feel that the residents of Berlin should have their own “space” simply because the site is truly theirs and I want to encourage the citizens of Berlin to feel as if a part of this program is for them, which in turn will help to create a dialog between the townspeople and “new Berlin.”

Respect the existing site, its history and the existing structure
It is not my goal to overdevelop the site with buildings. In fact, I would like most of the site to be allowed to re-grow (perhaps by creating spaces where no buildings/parking lots/walkways can be built). The purpose of this, is to help re-create a forest ecosystem on the site. Why, when there are forests all around the town? One of my original ideas for thesis was “giving back to nature.” As a result of the papermill, the pollution and the sprawling growth of the town, many species of birds and plants have been displaced. I would like to attempt to reincorporate the birds/plants to the site, through a small “ecosystem” that would be created in addition to the program.
In regards to the existing structure (paper mill) I am still struggling with whether I keep the entire building, I keep a portion (and if so, which part?), if I should building on the existing footprint, if I should re-use the exterior metal cladding....I do know that it is important to me to re-use as much of the building as possible (similar to an adaptive reuse, but not at its fullest extent), which would then also mean that I would build on the existing footprint - as to not disturb anymore of the site. I am leaning towards keeping the existing footprint (to preserve as much of the site as possible) and to reuse the metal facade where I can, but not be limited only to metal.
In regards to the historical aspect of the program, I believe that the tower may be able to carry that weight, as long as I address it appropriately.
While reading a book this week on the history of Berlin, I discovered that Berlin was home to the first ski jump (similar to that of the jump in Lake Placid, NY) as well as the first ski club in the United States. I know I need to “close the circle” but this relates to the history of the town and could easily be incorporated into the program (outdoor/nature related).

Justify why creating a piece of architecture and a program would create a new “identity” (explain what “identity” is and how my design and program will help to give Berlin a “new identity.)
Identity “is whatever makes an entity definable and recognizable, in terms of possessing a set of qualities or characteristics that distinguish it from entities of a different type.” The paper mill is what set Berlin apart from its surrounding neighbors in New Hampshire. It was known throughout the town (and surrounding region) that Berlin was the place where logging and paper-making occurred. Now that the town is no longer making paper or harvesting trees for the purposes of making paper, the people of the town feel as if their towns identity has been stripped away from them. I believe that by creating a link to its historic past (logging, paper-making, outdoor athletics) through the program of the new building, as well as honoring the people of the town by creating a space that is specifically for their use –that the proposed design could be justified.

Methods of Inquiry (long run)
-Investigating the historical aspect of the town through readings, talking to Berlin citizens, Historical Society. The purpose of this is so I can help to justify creating a “link” to the history of the town and relating it to the site.
-Create exploratory sketch models: (including)
-Various spaces - interior/exterior in different scales to help further explore and investigate the massing/size/scale of the building(s).
-Create models/sketches of “symbolic item” that I want to incorporate throughout Berlin - an architectural piece that will represent the “new Berlin” that can be appropriately placed within the town/along Main Street
-Investigate NOLS. (Mission Statement, Current Porgrams, Locations, Courses, etc.)
-Continue to blog on the town of Berlins “Main Street Redevelopment” webpage (continuing contact with citizens of the town)
-Investigate architectural examples of re-use/redevelopment and projects/designs that resonate with my concept.

For last weeks assignment, I basically wanted to design the building itself. Run through with one design and see if it was practical/appropriate/
justified. My “methods of inquiry” were simply to create a schematic design. During that process I attempted to create diagrams that expressed movement/travel through the spaces, capture moments within the building and what impact they would have visually/psychologically on people, a series of massing/spatial layouts and a rough floor plan following the existing footprint.

Terms of Criticism (long run)
I will feel I have been successful with my project when I can answer these questions:
-Is proposed program appropriate for the community? Has it met any of the needs of the community?
-Is the program relative to the former mill site and history of Berlin?
-Will the proposed program provide jobs for local residents?
-Has the design incorporated as many on-site materials as possible?
-Has the surrounding landscape (mountains and river) been taken into consideration within the design?
-Is it clear that there is a connection between “new” and “old” Berlin? Is this done through the architecture?

In regards to last weeks assignment, I can say that I made an attempt to incorporate the landscape (views from the site) and I attempted to create a connection between new/old Berlin by creating the glass corridor. Last weeks assignment clearly has not done these to the full extent, nor have I done them successfully. I need to create more than a gesture - it has to be a connection that is obvious, but also relevant (not just a “view”). I have not made any historical reference (through the architecture or a gesture) nor have I explored materials - other than “glass, metal, timber.”

In terms of the footprint of the building and why I wish to remain within the existing footprint simply goes back to my notion/idea of doing as little damage as possible to the site. I would rather build on the footprint (or former footrpints/foundations) of the previous buildings - as that soil has been disturbed. I do not wish to do further “harm” to the site by digging for more foundations - as there is more than adequate space(s) currently on the site! (Many of the foundations of the former buildings are still intact...perhaps a plan of this would be beneficial!) In short, I think that by staying within the confines of the existing building footprint, I am respecting the site and I attempt to encourage natural growth (plants, shrubs, wildflowers).

In terms of my next steps, I plan on doing the following this weekend:
-Exploring the “connection to Main Street” issue, by diagramming/modeling several different ways that I could address “connection” through the building. I will do this with models, as it is a medium that I prefer to work and is most beneficial for me.
-Finish my research regarding the paper-making process (I am hoping that the end-result will help me to creatively design my “symbol” for new Berlin.
-Complete the design charrette assignment

Monday, June 22, 2009

Schematic Design Ideas....

The general idea behind this first conceptual concept is based on 3 main ideas:
1. Keeping withing existing footprint/using as much of the existing building in the reconstruction as possible.
2. Creating a dialog between Main Street and the Site.
3. Replicating a "naturalistic" landscape within the space.

I propose to fulfill those ideas by:
-Using materials from existing building
-Keeping scale of existing building
-Through the implementation of the glass entryways - along the axis that is perpendicular to Main Street - enabling a view of the street while inside the building, helping to reinforce a connection with "the old town."
-By creating large, expansive and high spaces - similar to that of a forest, it will help to reinforce the idea of a "naturalistic" interior. It will also help to create a historic link to the past (history of logging, papermaking) by using materials such as timber.

Of course there is much more to explore - but this was a first attempt at an idea.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Diagramming Adjacencies

Considering the spaces and my proposed program, I constructed several adjacency diagrams - diagramming the relationships of the spaces to one another.

I know that I want the entry sequences to be in close proximity to the larger public spaces (rock gym, dining, meeting rooms). I know that I will have several floors - and that the gym will encompass several floors (in height) - so each level of the building will have some kind of interaction with the gym.

Considering the paths of travel - and its interaction between the spaces (both horizontally and vertically).

Justifying which levels should be public/private - and the programmatic aspects of each proposed floor.

Sunday, June 14, 2009