Advanced Design Studio II continued the development of the online learning experience while also continuing to build the essential skills that would be required in the professional industry. The class required students to meet a minimum of two times per week. The first session was a synchronized session in which the professor would address the class. The second session, included in each week, would take place on the proceeding days. This session is when students would receive individual time with the professor reviewing their work.
The studio was focused on how “mixed-use hybrid” architecture can create unique environments while also creating interaction with the existing urban environments found in the surrounding context. Mixed-use architecture became an interesting study for graduate level students because the melding different uses had the potential to create dynamic structures that interact with pedestrians in a very unique way. Concepts relating to pedestrian movement and connectivity were explored which related to urban design strategies. The final project had little to do with the final built form; instead the project focused on how this synergy of different programmatic functions could enhance the surrounding environments and create areas that are ultimately more pedestrian friendly.
This semester differed from the last because I was given the opportunity to select my own site. I began collecting information on five sites located within the DDA boundaries of Ann Arbor. After organizing a brief summary on each of the sites I decided to select a site that contained a variety of properties that were underutilized and had the potential of being combined into one cohesive master planning project. Included on the sites were the downtown public library, Blake transit center, and two adjoining surface parking lots. Through combining these entities I was provided with a fantastic opportunity to create a mixed-use project that would incorporate a new library, transit center, downtown living, leasable office space, underground parking, and retail.
Combining the multitude of various programmatic elements became an interesting challenge. I began approaching site design by diagraming pedestrian movement through the city. As I was researching pedestrian movement I encountered city documents that proposed a pedestrian link through the center of the selected sites. Working off this idea I created a new axis that was pivoted away from the typical grid of the city. The new axis would play a large role in designing the built form and associated public spaces. The project also respected the surrounding elements such as Liberty Plaza to the northeast which became the entry point for the new site design. As pedestrians make their way through the site and approach the building an interesting public promenade becomes apparent. The raised public level provides recreation areas, dining areas, and quite reading nooks for the redeveloped library. Creating a raised promenade also allowed for enhanced connectivity in the development through second floor crosswalks that would connect the redesigned Blake Transit Center to the library. Through the incorporation of the transit center and additional public space the mixed-use development would become a primary destination for downtown residents.
ADVANCED DESIGN STUDIO II