So here are my thoughts so far:
This is what I would like to address in the final weeks of design time:
-Architectural Materiality & Character
-Define edge conditions
-Develop plan/design to incorporate “the community”
-Further develop use of building
-Develop characters for book
Architectural Material & Character:
I think I took the modern approach the first time around, as I thought that a modern/white/new facade would help further express the “new identity” of Berlin. Instead, it caused more confusion, as the modern style did not assist the idea of my thesis, nor was it a style of architecture I appreciate.
I would like to incorporate more wood, stone, glass, and exposed metal (similar to images below). I think that by using materials local to the area, such as wood and stone - that it will help to emphasize not only the historic nature of the town (the building formerly being a paper mill), but also it will help to keep the building within a more naturalistic, appropriate style. Having a large white building in the middle of an old New England town does not seem at all appropriate to me.
I think that by using more natural elements in the facade and design (interiors and exteriors) it will help to express a notion of the past as well as paving a way for future architectural design (master planning).
The images you see here are of James Cutlers work. I like the use of the wood in combination with the metal and stone. To me, materials like these would help to express the industrial nature of the former building (telling a story of history) as well as provide a new design template for the rest of the buildings on the site.
Large wood beams, exposed metals and local stone (granite), would help to express a sense of localism (making a connection between the local materials and the new program) - while also reminding the viewer that this building was once of an industrial nature.
Define Edge Condition:
I dont think I successfully did this task for the presentation - in regards to the river. I simply left the river the way that it was - steeply pitched banks covered with rocks and trees...almost no connection to the river through my site (other than the kayak launching area and pitched lawn).
I would like to explore the notion of edge and how I can manipulate the edge of the river to work to help better express my ideas and make my argument more convincing.
Develop Design to incorporate COMMUNITY
One of the reasons I wanted to explore this site and building was because I had concerns for the residents of Berlin. I was worried that they would not be represented, that this land would be used in a negative way - without benefitting the townspeople whatsoever.
I want to make it a point that the community is my priority in this thesis. I am designing a place for these people to BENEFIT from, a place they can belong to, a place they can be proud of.
While walking through Providence with Denise, she and I came across a small amphitheater along the the river. We discussed how I might be able to incorporate something like that within my own project. This could potentially be a place for the community to gather alongside the river (facing the mountains) that would bring not only Berlin residents together, but people (students, tourists, neighboring townspeople) together.
I also wanted to look into the transportation situation - and how people would get to the site. I initially had only one footbridge and an existing road as a way to the site.
I would now like to propose extending Community Street across - allowing for BOTH car traffic and foot traffic (two separate units to be designed - although they are connected). I would also like to propose re-establishing the railroad connection - by reinstating the existing railroad bridge (further up river) that would cross over to the site and terminate at a new building at the end of the rail.
The purpose of extending the rail back to the site (re-establishing the rail) would be to encourage the tourists from neighboring cities to visit Berlin (either without the hassle of the car, the nostalgia of the train). The train played a vital role in keeping this site alive and I believe that by re-establishing that connection, it will help to further encourage my ideas.
Further Develop Use of Building
I think that I may have tried to fill too much space (with program) within the existing building. I now think that instead of filling it all with program, I will leave some areas “existing” - and plan to use them within the master plan/future growth of the site/program. This way I am able to expand my program and use land on the site to build new buildings (such as the classrooms).
I still plan on keeping the NOLS School, but now I would also like to propose that local businesses have space either within this building (or surrounding buildings) to encourage growth across the river.
I also propose on a community/regional based entity - something that would bring neighboring townspeople to the site - such as a firefighters training/meeting area, etc.
In addition, I would also like to propose that the dormitories be placed along Main Street, rather than on the site. This would help encourage students to interact with the townspeople, their businesses and help to bridge the gap between the use groups.
Characters in Book
Denise and I agreed that my thesis should be a “story” and that I need to develop who the characters are within my book. I have come up with these characters as of now:
-Bill: 60 years old, former mill worker (third generation) who was laid off in 2002 when the mill was closed.
-Gretchen: 45 years old, wife of mill worker
-Aimee: 22 years old, recent college graduate, coming home to Berlin
-Rich: 17 year old teenager, growing up in Berlin
-Shannon: 20 year old student in NOLS program
-Mike: 35 years old, avid outdoorsmen, loves to travel in North Country
-Dean: 50 year old resident of Goram (town 15 min. south of Berlin)
I plan to use these characters within my “story” to help further explain the problems with Berlin, the proposed solutions for the town/site/building and the proposed master plan/future for the town.
I will have to develop these characters in more detail - so their stories actually explain what my thesis is about.