Ann Arbor, Michigan | 2014 | Design+Fabrication
Collaboration with Robert Adams - Adams+Gilpin Design Studio and Peter Sparling.
Ann Arbor, Michigan | 2013 | Design+Build
Designed as a second iteration of the culinary adventures of The Lunch Room, the space borrowed design motives from the operations of the start-up food cart. The long continuous counter has variations in detailing for the bakery, point-of-sale and counter service. The open kitchen allows interaction throughout the meal, critical for the charismatic owners to always be engaging with their customers.
Synecdoche designed and fabricated all the custom features of the space. The soffits within the space help define separate zones of dining and service within the cozy space. The typical bamboo skewers are dipped in paint and as aggregate of small details lose their individual appearance and becomes one large installation. Custom cut cement board gives definition and durability to the walls, hinting at the restaurant’s signature yellow color within the reveal joint. A large banquet buffers sound and provides flexible seating with moving tables custom welded with the same detailing as the counter.
Controlled burn is a contemporary proposal of traditional fire treatment as a material construction and ecological process. A controlled burn would be conducted on the garden during the Inaugural event. The remainder of the festival would exhibit the natural development of regrowth from ashes, putting the process on display prior to the plantings.
A shou sugi ban cedar boardwalk acts as an induced edge effect, a structural boundary between two habitats. It provides a fire resistant material palette during the brush fire and seals the natural fibers preventing rot and insects during regrowth. The structural contour of the boardwalk meeting the ground plane provides a choke point to extinguish the fire. The dark luminous sheen of the wood is balanced aside the light filigree of plantings.
The walk separates an untouched exterior edge of grasses and an interior of ashes. As the interior regrows, the fragrance of charred cedar planks remains as a continuous path wrapping between the two plantings. A pocket in the garden provides a ledge to sit and pause along the boardwalk, feet sweeping just above the surface as to not disturb the growth, absorbing the immediate aromatic sensorial experience and slow renewal of plantings. As a result, the garden is a proposal of connecting built and ecosystems into productive rather than destructive natures.
Top 20 entry for the New Gardens of the 15th International Garden Festival in Quebec, Canada.
It is estimated that as many as 80 percent of people in the world have never seen the Milky Way (1). Light pollution from ill designed fixtures, not only wastes economic resources, but reduces visibility of the night sky, thwarting access to culturally significant views of the cosmos. Simultaneously excessive darkness creates physical and psychological distress as we traverse the urban environment. The right to darkness and the right to light are jointly related.
Timothy Ferris, an award winning author on science and astronomy shares these concerns specifically towards the younger generation, "The loss of the night sky is most troubling for children. Whole generations of kids in cities and suburbs are growing up seldom if ever having seen the Milky Way and what a sky full of thousands of stars might look like. (2)" While efforts to preserve dark skies in the wilderness have gained momentum beginning with organizations like the International Dark Skies Association in 2001, access to these places by certain population segments is difficult if not impossible because of limited financial means and public transportation infrastructures. The project seeks to investigate design possibilities to create a balanced infrastructure and educational outreach between light and dark as a means to build safe and thriving environments and cultures.
1) P. Cinzano, F. Falchi, and C.D. Elvidge. “The first World Atlas of the artificial night sky brightness” Monthly of the Royal Astronomical Society Vol. 328, 24 July, 2001. p. 701.
2) I. Cheney,“The City Dark” PBS Documentary 5 July 2012.
Paris, France | 2014
Photography series based on overlays of single point perspective photographs. The series explores how juxtaposition multiple spaces of a single place may produce new program, use or design typologies. The overlays introduce spaces previously unimagined but built out of the existing conditions of a place, shifting the documentation of a place into the representation of an imagined space.
Flint, Michigan | 2013 | Flat Lot Competition: Top 20
Like the public pool, Big Top is a collector of individual summer adventures in public space. Conceived as a tensile double skin mesh woven from ¾” swimming pool rope the canopy provides a shaded flat lot and sprawling Big Top. Vertically scaffolds surrounding existing light fixtures and base footings at three parking space clusters define the mesh anchor points. Digital modeling and computational physics engines applied the tensile weaving forces on the mesh deriving the parabolic canopy. The inverted pitched canopies into these courtyard stages allow aerial access for lounging and camaraderie. The rope mesh extends the full North-South length of flat lot along Saginaw with aims to extend the width of the street.
For spectators of summer events the canopy gives a birds-eye view from above or a shaded retreat below. When the sun goes down and the summer nights start an array of activated buoys affixed to the rope float above the lot to define space through light and sound. Small solar panels on the buoys nodes provide power to light the stages during evening events and wirelessly project sound through the lot to large crowds. When the summer days end and the Big Top comes down what will happen to the nearly ten miles of rope? We’d like to keep the summer fun going and cut and cap the rope into 6,500 jump ropes for the Flint community.
Ann Arbor, Michigan | 2012 | Design+Renovation
Renovation of a 1950's ranch house in Ann Arbor. The main objective was to erase walls and partitions to bring light and air across the plan of the house.
Atlanta, Georgia | 2011 | 10Up Competition: Winner
As a practice of the temporality Edge Condition challenges the material, assembly, process and effect of public space. The act of the installation presents architecture at a different physical and temporal scale. A short existence of the experience replaces the density of architecture as a permanent object with the ephemeral sensitivity of a condition in time. The installation has become a means of participation by public and practice to work through ideas in iteration. Installations by nature has a plasticity, one which can transition and adapt. At the scale of occupation while nimble and tactile, it also allows the examination of questions in architecture through the process of making the conceptual.
Interrogating material as a device for design, wood edges were discovered as a standardized element which could aggregate to a series of constructions. While variable in length and width the wood edges are consistently one inch thick from the milling process. As the lumber mill planes and trims wood boards for inventory, the wood edges as off cuts become a residual material in the process. Edge Condition finds a way to extract the balance from the process to utilize its capacity in the practice of an installation. The conclusion of the installation also means the conclusion of the wood edges life, but rather than being disposed they are re-inserted to the milling process to be churned to wood chips as a new condition and anticipated capacity for the material. By operating on the edge of definitive material, neither board nor wood chip, the wood edge becomes the temporal object between two phases.
In the same light the pavilion offers the capacity to be an edge condition of construction. The methodical mode of stacking and maneuvering the edges is in itself on the edge of a mode of assembly. The flat stacking method gives way to opportunities for expansion and contraction of the volume between the material. The variable of stacking techniques allow for light to move into the pavilion only through the spaces between the edges transforming the edge condition into an ephemeral effect. The friction fit stack enables a rapid assembly/dis-assembly mode as a condition of the installation.
While in its first life, Edge Condition existed for a 8 day period, the expectation is that the texturized assemblage would transform over time as its exposure continued. In the short term of the installation the wood edges found themselves faded where exposed to sunlight and protected where two edges overlapped. In initial tests of the slatted surface through the seasons, finite particles move uninterrupted through the space while larger accumulations of snow and leaves began to seal and block the atmosphere of light and wind into the interior condition. Searching for the unexpected and anticipating surprising new conditions is the earnestness of installations, it provides what it is and to interrogate its result rather than its expectation is the value of continuing to work on the edge.
Sponsors: wood edges donated by Hardwoods of Michigan in Clinton, Michigan. Young Architects Forum of Atlanta, Octane Coffee Bar, AIA Atlanta, Modern Atlanta
Ann Arbor crew: Christopher Holzwart, Mary O’Malley, Sarah Petri, Kyle Shobe, Peter von Buelow, Robert Yuen
Atlanta crew: Emily Bacher, Keith Brockman, Jason Diehl, Adam Glenn, Nathan Koskovich, Carolina Montilla
Detroit, Michigan | 2009 | Design+Build
An office situated inside a house built in 1907 on Detroit’s east side for a group that specializes in graphic design and marketing. The office identity needs to reflect that of a young and contemporary marketing group.
Light and material are the largest factors in the design. The installation creates an interior wrap within the existing room that screens light and and defines function. The perforated panels screen the existing fluorescent lights diffusing the harsh light to a subtle glow. Window panels allow control of natural light and shelving wraps the room for extra storage and display.
The office space requires accommodation for up to four people. On frequent occasion the office is utilized by only two people. To maximize flexibility and flow the workstations become dynamic. Extra desks nestle below the primary desks to maximize space. When all four people are at work, the desks roll apart to reveal more work space underneath.
Not consequently a wal-mart sits adjacent to the site which has collected the residual consumer goods of the suburban culture. For years the region has been building it’s own foundation for a tabula rasa, for a landscape project. In the course of ten years since remediation decomposition has altered the site. As our consumer desires grow stronger our landfills also grow larger. In the mid-west there are nearly seventy five landfills nearing capacity. While simple solutions for remediation have been developed, post cap and greening these sites lay dormant as they shift, decompose, and settle through time.
Lyon township acquired user rights to the republic waste remediated landscape. An understated and uninformed reaction by the community was to utilize the site for ubiquitous neighborhood programming; benches, baseball fields, playground structures, and picnic areas. While the programming on top of the cap remained static during the first ten years of acquisition, the waste below continued to dissolve and compact ever changing and moving, a dynamic landscape.
While engineering has imagined infrastructure able to anticipate the changing nature of the contained waste, little opportunity has emerged to image new landscapes of possible futures as eccentric, unproportional and dynamic as the waste below them. Coupling relevant issues of designing through dynamic landscapes and engaging the remediation process, unexpected narratives and scenarios emerge. Designing through projection rather than the present.
As the land slopes and shifts low points wander through the field of monitoring caps. Using the weight of water and the shedding topography of the landscape, the proposal concentrates water to pools which over time create a weight large enough to amplify focused pressure to the compacting garbage. In the end the landscape finishes as a large crater filled with water. The residual berms which retained the waste erode into the lake mixing to a fully remediated marshland.
The transforming terrain also leads to adjusting top soil. As the base decomposes, the water swales and the ground erodes. Building interventions atop such a charismatic territory is reduced down to the simple issue that rigid bodies do not like moving foundations. Instead the work imagines a series of follies; initially nestled within the ground bridging, connecting and grounded. As the earth adjusts to the happenings underneath it wears away from the structure slowly exposing more while reducing its footprint.
Spotted through the landscape are a series of regulation caps. These caps monitor the methane levels being released from the decomposing waste. Currently a $30,000 budget is allocated to the mowing of a landfill. Why? because these caps need to be visible at a distance for safety and maintenance purposes. A small area surrounding each monitoring cap is all that is required to be manicured, this can be done with the mowing capabilities of a small heard of sheep. Tethered to each cap, the sheep graze the lawn providing the necessary radius of short grasses while greatly reducing budgetary constraints and maintenance efforts.
The means of extending our projections to the extreme allows a reach to the ends of reason and find emergent and revealing scenarios which would not have been discovered in the passive attention of resolving issues one by one. To resolve the post-landfill is to propose a projective landscape.
with William Liow
Architectural and built environment photography and video work by Adam Smith. See more at adamsmithstudio.com