In a past life, I studied architecture and urban design at the University of Washington in Seattle. Some of these projects were part of that graduate program, while others were pursued on the side or predated it. Some have been built, and others were theoretical from start to finish. This is a sampling of works from various studios and contexts during that period (with the exception of these first few pencil, charcoal and pen drawings done as an undergraduate in philosophy at Carleton College).
Natural Systems Swimming Pool [Winter 2005]: This public pool project was designed for one of the many parks found throughout Seattle. Its primary goal was to engage with surrounding environments, from the level of individual swimmer experiences to larger sustainable scales. The proposal involved passive heating, cooling and ventilation systems as well as other green building strategies, and a minimalist structural framework to enhance the visual connection of the exterior forest and interior space.
Sustainable Urban Art High School [Spring 2006]: Sited in the center of downtown Seattle, this project engaged both the external urban environment and internal creative spaces. A layered approach combined with a living wall established a transitional bridge for students as they spiraled up into the building into community-oriented programmatic zones and away from the surrounding city, only to encounter it again along the edges of each studio space on the upper floors. (Click to Enlarge)
Solid Wood Mahogany Desk [Summer 2006]: Crafted from a single raw piece of ribboned Honduras Mahogany, as much time was spent calculating the best way to divide the precious wood as was put into the cutting and construction of the final furniture piece. The resulting desk deals with solid-wood issues such as seasonal expansion and contraction, combining modern style and traditional construction techniques. It features a floating top, single sliding drawer and recessed footrest.
Temple of Light Memorial [Fall 2006]: A memorial to victims of a tragic shooting that took place in Seattle, this temple posed a unique set of difficulties at all stages of its design. First, it was ultimately a community project – the solution was not about designer ambition or personal opinion. It evolved in response to the needs of the bereaved, including friends and family. Second, the structure was seven sided (with one side for each victim) – this asymmetry made the creation of plans, sections and the final itself object more difficult. After being displayed at Seattle Center, the piece was deconstructed (by design) and moved to the Black Rock Desert. It was then erected again and burned at an annual arts festival in Black rock City which a number of the deceased had visited annually. (Click to Enlarge)
Centerpark – A Redesign for Seattle Center [Fall 2006]: Part architecture, part urban design, and entirely audacious, this redesign addresses a puzzling space left over from Seattle’s long-past World’s Fair. The project re-envisioned the area as a place that could re-center the city, becoming more than the sum of its currently-disjointed parts. The solution combined literally new layers of park, transportation and civic interaction space on upper levels in order to give new meaning to an area too long left to evolve without singular purpose or meaning. (Click to Enlarge)
I still surprise myself whenever I do look back at any of this – it seems like I worked on these projects decades ago, not years. The further I get away from it, however, the more I realize how much value I got from these design-related experiences – including visual communication skills, researching and writing practice and an ongoing love of design challenges.