The overlying scope of the Summer Masters class studio included a strong focus on the opportunities that could potentially exist within the ecological networks of the Great Lakes region. The reason for the increased urgency towards intervention in the region is based on the fact that the Great Lakes contains 20% of the world’s fresh water and will inevitably become a substantial asset moving towards the future. The “Third Coasting” project that we worked on pursued an architecture that would respond to and participate in the ecology of this Great Lake region and its attendant urban systems. The Summer Master Class studio was strategically broken into a four distinct phases that allowed our team to effectively navigate through a comprehensive design project. Through the completion of each phase our group progressed towards a more articulated design solution that would express our unique methods for intervention.
The first phase of the project included intense research on existing ecological systems. This research included precedent studies, history of ecological management, and diagraming which helped us attain the proper mindset before moving forward with brainstorming for specific strategies of intervention. The research culminated in a fifty page log book that effectively documented preliminary examples and strategies that had been implemented in projects before. The research that was done gave the team strong groundwork that would cultivate into ongoing discussions about how the ecology of the region could provide for exciting design opportunities.
The second portion of our design process involved identifying specific critical points within the Great Lakes Region. First, our group participated in a travel exercise which helped us to identify some of the ecological issues within the region. We visited cities such as Erie, Buffalo, Toledo, and Detroit. When looking for specific ecological tendencies we focused on the interface that existed between the shoreline and the lake. The relationship that is formed along the coastline would become the prime candidate for our project locations. On our travels across the region we simultaneously began to document and map existing conditions. The broad understanding of our surroundings would allow us to move forward with knowledge that could help formulate the premise of our proposed design. While on our travels we chose three preliminary sites as potential candidates for intervention. The three sites Buffalo, Cleveland, and Sandusky were photographed and blended into a panoramic view allowing us to do three design sketches that were quick examples of ideas we were thinking about on our travels. Quick sketch exercises allowed the team to be loose and creative while also inspiring us to think outside the typical realm of design.
After our traveling exercise was completed we immediately began to map out a multitude of the existing conditions that were revealed throughout our travel. As we were mapping we acknowledged that our travels did not encompass the Great Lakes Network in its entirety, which meant that the team would be required to research the outlying areas and provide additional information. The focus of our group soon became clear after completing our mapping activity. Our focus was primarily on the coexistence of native and non-native species that were found within the Great Lakes Region. Mapping the different species allowed us to understand the relationships between both the non-native and native species.
With the completion of research, site exploration, and mapping we began to focus our energy on one specific non-native species, algae. Our project became centered on harvesting of algae blooms, a non-native species that is plentiful in the great lakes region. The main goal of our project would be to take advantage of the ample amounts of algae that are found scattered throughout the region and exploit the species for their available potential. After thorough research we learned that algae when harvested correctly could provide a substantial amount of usable energy. We then proceeded to create environments that were catalyzed by the close proximity production of the new energy typology. The proposed designs would create a new typology of living that would use the energy created by the harvesting of the algae blooms as well as create a new typology of living that would thrive on the connectivity to the great lakes ecology.