This prompt was to bring light and ventilation into the upper gallery of Cheever Hall at Montana State University. The upper gallery is notorious for being a cramped, dull area with no ventilation whatsoever. When critiques take place, the room quickly becomes unbearable from lack of fresh air and the spike in temperature from body heat. I felt that it was important to allow in natural light, but also to limit it. This thought was due to the consideration that this space is ultimately a presentation space, and being able to control light is a critical aspect. The wall to the light well is held slightly off the room walls, ceiling, and floor which allows light to subtly wash through the room. The major focus was on being able to ventilate the space, which would happen though the light well. There are two panels within the lightwell; one for controlling ventilation, and another for controlling the light.
We were given the prompt to design a mining interpretive center for Butte, MT. My goal was to use the structure to give a personal experience of the descending nature of the historical way of mining in Butte. Board formed concrete would have an emphasis on the horizontal stratified layers, mimicking the stratification of the earth. This would become a powerful player once the occupants make the decent from the open ground floor to the deep, enclosed basement floor. Occupants could do this in two ways. The primary way is by taking the elevator, which will slowly take the occupants downward. The elevator stands in an opening in the floor that allows the viewer to peer into the depth of the basement floor. The alternate way is by utilizing the stairs, which run parallel to the stratified concrete. The occupant could mentally track their decent by seeing these stratifications pass them. They would then arrive in the dim, cramped space of the basement mimicking the condition of being in a mine shaft hundreds of feet below the surface. Their depth below the earth would be emphasized by a slit window at the top of the wall, which would be located 15 feet above them. The cantilever serves two functions: To shade the amphitheater below it, and to keep the exterior exhibit protected by cutting off access to it from outside the building. Visitors arrive at the parking lot to the North West and are greeted by a stratified concrete wall, which requires them to walk around it. The wall that may initially appear as fending the visitor off, suddenly becomes embracing after being passed. Once the visitors enter the structure they are greeted by an open gathering space. The louver walls then entice the visitor to come into the exhibit space by teasing with an obscured preview of it.
The next prompt for the course was to use the same site and add a community center for Butte. We weren't allowed to undo any changes made to the site from the previous project. My focus on this project was making spaces that were flexible and satisfied multiple program requirements and, in doing so, reduce the footprint of the building. Due to the extreme thermal conditions of Butte the building was sunk into the earth, allowing the earth to thermally insulate the building to reduce the cost of running HVAC equipment. A green roof was also incorporated so residents of butte would still be able to use the site as though it were a park. The entrance to the building was held back from the street, allowing visitors to pass through the courtyard before entering. In order for the community center to help support itself a coffee shop was placed on the street, so the proceeds could be used to contribute to keeping the center running, or to hold special events.