Today at 2p we will have our final review of the ASCENT models in the Center Core of Crown Hall.  The models are all that is really necessary for the review, and they will be our primary focus.

As you enter Crown Hall, there will be five terms/categories that will be evident.  Your goal will be to self select/categorize your model/project based on the term and move your model to that general location of Center Core. These categories will be posted around 1:45p, not sooner, so if you bring your models sooner, please know that you will have to adjust the location of your model at that time and prior to the review.

The only other – and fundamental criteria, is that all the models, per category, must be placed end to end continuously so that the plane of the continuous slope is evident as such.





A small scale, high intensity investigation to explore the relationship between circulation, topography, structure, tectonics and use.

-learn to discover criteria and identify constraints on your own-understand space and program as it relates to the scale of the human body

-to use iteration as a problem solving strategy and identify multiple solutions to solve singular design problems

-to learn how to work within a set of rules and to use rules to develop potentials

-to learn to work with steep grades/topographies

-focus on the craft of building a great model


Design a stair assembly that navigates a tall and steep slope.  The stair may have alternative functions, but the primary objective is to design a stair that allows for ascent and descent.   The critical investigations will be to explore the act of ascending/descending, to research and analyze a variety of stair assemblies and develop critique, iterate potential design solutions, and craft a quality model.

The remaining criteria are as follows:

  1. The site is a continuous and consistent steep slope (bluff) exactly 48’ tall and 48’ wide from the toe of the slope to the ridge of the slope.  
  2. The maximum riser height is 8”.  The minimum tread depth is 10”.  All treads and risers must be of equal height and width across the entirety of the stair from top to bottom of the slope.  The height of two risers plus the width of one tread shall equal not less than 23 inches nor more than 27 inches.
  3.  The maximum vertical rise of any flight between landings may not exceed 8 vertical feet, and the minimum width of and flight is 42”.
  4. Landings must at a minimum match the width of the stair and be a minimum of 48” long in the direction of travel.  There are no maximum sizes for landings.
  5. Handrails are required and are to be 36” above the stair nosings and guardrails are required and are to be 36” above any landings that are higher than 28” above the adjacent grade.  Handrails do not need to be continuous and guardrails do not require infill.  

Deliverables (at a minimum):

  1. A comprehensive and well crafted model of the integrated slope and stair assembly at ½”  = 1’-0”. Material of your choosing.

additional resources:

  1. Municipal Building Code of Chicago. (13-160-300)
  2. 2012 International Building Code. ISBN-13: 978-1609830403.
  3. Deplazes, Andre. Constructing Architecture.
  4. Schulitz, Sobek, Habermann; Steel Construction Manual; Birkhäuser Basel, 2000 5. Ernst Neufert; Architect’s Data; Lockwood


Final Descent

Good evening all. We hope all is well heading in to tomorrow’s reviews of our warm up project.  It’s been a good start to the semester.

Tomorrow’s reviews will be held starting at 2pm tomorrow in Upper Core.

We will begin by asking you to display your final models in Center Core, lined up in north/south running rows, with aisles between so that we may all wander around and view the work that has been completed.   We will lead the lineup effort, but if you could facilitate by having your models upstairs and ready to display at 2pm promptly, that would be appreciated.   We’ll spend 20 minutes or so reviewing the projects as a collection and perhaps talk briefly as a whole before breaking into our smaller groups.

After the display, we’ll be breaking into combined studio groups to review your work individually.  As the projects are small and relatively simple in nature, we will be combining studios with the intent of sharing the lessons learned and criteria developed between groups.  We will break into the studios as follows:

Blender/Johnson – West wall

Kearns/Klaeschen – North Wall, west side

Klymson/Parente – North Wall, east side

Park/Tinucci – East wall

Once broken up, the studio professors will conduct the reviews within the groups.

Please do remember our objectives heading in to tomorrow.  Our final deliverable is very specifically your best model, with drawings to reinforce your understanding of exactly how the stairs perform, are constructed, meet your criteria, etc.   We are all very much looking forward to seeing the final products.

See you tomorrow.