A Parti,from the French Prendre  meaning “to make a decision”, is often referred to as the big idea, and is the chief organizing thought or decision behind an architect’s design presented in the form of a basic diagram, model  and / or a simple statement.


With midterms behind us, let’s take a week to reflect and come to terms with the primary organizing systems of our proposal.  Take this week to update your proposal based on the feedback you received during midterm to craft a clear and well organized strategy that you can move forward with as we complete the design.


  • Finalize the organizing principles of your project.
  • Develop a clear organizational logic, diagram or set of drawings that reflect and substantiate your proposal.
  • Build a Parti that satisfies an agenda and organizes space or systems.


Revisit the critique you received during midterms, your current design agendas and your current design proposal and refine your proposal by clarifying the organizational logic.  

Ask yourself:

  1. What is the primary driver of your proposal?
  2. Which architectural systems are primary to your architectural proposal.  Which are secondary?
  3. What simple organizational logic or strategy can be overlaid with the proposal to clarify the plans/sections/diagrams?


  1. A refined set of midterm deliverables including an updated site plan, floor plans and building sections.
  2. A set of drawings, diagrams or models that clarify your organizational strategy or strategies.


Tomorrow we will have our midterm review in Crown Hall starting at 2:00pm sharp.  Please begin pinning up as soon at the DC review is complete (1:00pm), and please pin up as much work as possible so that we can begin promptly.

We will review by studio in the following locations:

Tinucci: Center Core west

Johnson/Siemionow: Center Core northwest

Kwong: Center Core northeast

Schachman:Center Core east

Glynn: North Core

Despite the short period of time everyone has had to generate a proposal, this is a formal review and you should treat is as such curate your presentations thoughtfully to get the most from the conversation and critique.

Looking forward to seeing all the work!!





As with every building design project, once the driving principles have been established, the architect’s job is to then turn the idea into a building by developing and composing building systems into spaces.  Your job is to now design the Chicago Rowing Club Boathouse communicating through plans, sections, and models how the composition of key building systems – circulation, structure, mass/volume, materiality, etc  – affect and influence the operation and environment of the boathouse on its site.   A great project will provide for all the essential needs of the program and infuse an AGENDA  through every one of these systems, allowing  building systems and space to embody ideas.


– Learn to build a plan for a building using your agenda as your guide
– Construct spatial relationships that satisfy your agendas as well as the operational agendas established by the building program.
– Learn to investigate and develop a tectonic language in fulfillment of an agenda.
– Develop and produce plans and sections that investigate and convey space and experience through intelligent and creative use of drawing conventions.
– Develop the ability to shape spatial experience and facilitate use through building systems and related assemblies.


Using the conventions of plans and sections develop a design for your Boathouse.   Plan and Section are two of the most typical and useful means of communicating materiality, space and spatial relationships, but they should also be used as a means of investigation and exploration.    

To draw successful plans and sections, it is critical to have an intent for the drawings.  Consider the varieties of systems that can become the support for composition (circulation, enclosures, surfaces, materials, structures, illumination, etc.) and practice assembling them in a variety of manners to shape use and experience.   Let the convention of drawing assist you in expressing your larger ideas and agendas.

When investigating, consider that a plan or section are platforms for exposing spatial relationships and composing material assemblies –  and that the graphic elements of a drawing represent material elements on paper.  

As such you should pay close attention to:

– what lines represent
– how linetypes, line thicknesses and line darknesses can communicate different things
– the thickness, heaviness, or opacity  of architectural systems (walls, enclosures)
– the sense of materiality communicated in the drawing (hard/soft, transparent/opaque, heavy/light)
– inside is not the same as indoor, and outside is not the same as outdoor.
– where to cut to explore and expose key “parti” – principles of spatial and material composition
– when to poche or not to poche and what it communicates about weight, mass, light, or other phenomenon
– how to integrate or separate various building systems (circulation, use, structure)
– how much of the immediate site and wider context are participants in the composition
– how to use complementary drawings across scale as a support for managing your thinking across size and scope


Develop a proposal for the structural and material systems that will shape the spaces and experiences of the boathouse.   As your proposal develops, resolve your ideas fully and into three dimensions.  As opposed to modeling masses, model systems that shape space, facilitate use and agenda, affect experience.

As you develop your tectonic system, consider the following:

– Does your structural and material system have a common and/or governing logic?  What is that logic.
– Is there an alternative system to your proposal that operates similarly?  What differentiates the two?


  1. Site plan at scale with surrounding context and ground floor plan shown.
  2. Ground floor plan at scale (+/- ⅛” = 1’-0”)including road and river
  3. Other floor plans at same scale
  4. Building section at scale (min ¼”=1’-0”) including road and river
  5. Enlarged, illuminated and annotated section at scale (min ½” = 1’-0”) conveying assembly of building systems that influence operation and distill agenda.
  6. Scale model including road and river