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



ASSIGNMENT: 4a IDEAhaus_systems development


(systems development)


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 the building systems into space and experience. Your job is to now complete the design of the IDEAhaus through the development of the key building systems – plan, section, structure, enclosure and experience. A successful project will use the developed agendas to lead the design process for every one of these systems, allowing the building systems to fully embody the idea, just as the programmatic organization or site strategies have.


– learn to use your agendas as the primary driver of all building systems

– develop and produce plans and sections that investigate and convey space and experience through intelligent and creative use of drawing conventions.

– understand the relationship between building systems and spatial experience.

– develop structural frames and enclosure systems that embody the larger ideas and ideals of a project.

– understand the performance criteria of an enclosure system and learn to develop enclosure systems that meet those functional requirements while advancing design agendas.

– design and detail spaces towards use and experience



Using conventional drawing means, develop detailed plans and sections for your IDEAhaus.   Plan and Section are two of the most typical and useful means of communicating 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 we have been working with and designing and determine methods for communicating each of these systems in your drawings.  Let the convention of drawing also find ways to express your larger ideas and agendas.


When investigating, consider the following:

– the thickness of your lines

– the thickness of your systems (walls, enclosure)

– materiality

– interior versus exterior

– poche

– building systems (circulation, use, structure)

– context /  site

– scale


Starting from the ground, develop a building frame that satisfies the complex issues of creating a form, resolving all typical building loads necessary to support the building while still advancing your design agenda as much as necessary to satisfy your larger design intent.

Consider the following as you develop your structural system.

– Does your structural system have a common and/or governing logic for resolving all of the parts in relation to the whole?

– Have you studied alternatives and variations that meet your specific criteria and analyzed their pros and cons?

– Does your structure satisfy a broader agenda?  If so, how?  If not, why not?

– Is your structural system exposed or is it concealed, and what is your process for determining the most appropriate answer to these questions?


Develop an enclosure system, composed of all of the parts/systems necessary to control the environmental stability of your IDEAhaus and shape meaningful spatial experiences while satisfying the larger design agendas you have established.

Remember, an envelope is the primary means of controlling visual and physical access to our buildings as well as energy transmission to and from the spaces we create.  As such, we should consider these primary systems in the development of our enclosures:

Aesthetic – Both from the interior of the building and the exterior of the building, the enclosure system, often in conjunction with the structural system, forms the visual expression of our buildings, and this expression must be considered and developed with intent.  The agenda for the expression should be developed initially from our concepts and realized through the specific use of materials, their connections and compositions.

Thermal – This system embodies the control of energy and moisture through the envelop and includes the primary means of waterproofing and insulating a building, as well as controlling the passage of water vapor.  These elements should form continuous lines of control and protection, and should only be compromised when absolutely necessary to satisfy other, and more important, agendas.

Use – Elements such as doorways and windows facilitate use, circulation and view, and must be manipulated strategically to choreograph a users experience in and through a building, and it, too, should be developed in conjunction with your larger ideas to become one with your overall design agenda.


The deliverables for this phase will be any necessary process drawings, models and visualizations to convey the development of these systems and the overall design for your project.

Drawings can and should include any information necessary to convey your process and your broader intent, including anything from diagrams to details. Drawings will not be prescribed nor limited but should include building plans and building/site sections,enlarged details/wall sections that convey the details and relationship of your structure and enclosure, and representations necessary to convey the materiality and experience of your project and its desired effect.

Models can include any massing or study models, or enlarged enclosure/structural models.  Models will not be prescribed nor limited but should include well considered study/massing models, models that clearly represent the structural elements of your project and models that allow you to explore and demonstrate spatial experience.

ASSIGNMENT 3A: IDEAhaus (program/site/concept)

3A_IDEAhaus (program/site/concept)

Download assignment here: S15 ARCH 306_ASSIGNMENT 3A_IDEAhaus


IDEAhaus is a new Chicago Institution. Owned and operated by the City of Chicago, IDEAhaus is a network of buildings spread out across Chicago intended to establish a framework for community involvement and engagement. Individually, each building is defined by the specific needs of its site and context providing places for the community to MEET, MAKE and PERFORM, fostering public programs and potentials that are as diverse as the network of neighborhoods that make up Chicago.

You are now asked to specify the use program for the IDEAhaus, define a specific site for the building within your AREA OF INTEREST, and to develop and refine the primary motivations for the design of the facility.


– Develop a specific use program for the IDEAhaus

– Complete the necessary research to fully vet the site selection and use program

– Familiarize yourself with Quantum GIS software

– Learn how to create shape files with specific criteria in QGIS

– Select a site for the IDEAhaus within your area of interest and substantiate that location through GIS mapping and analysis.

– Practice quickly exploring concepts through modeling

– Develop and test concepts for the IDEAhaus

– Present a compelling argument for your IDEAhaus at Midterm review.



Develop a specific use program for the IDEAhaus specific to your research and area of interest.  Mine your AREA OF INTEREST for it’s INFRA and develop a use program that improves, exploits, contradicts, etc, that framework.

Though simple, the programs can have a range of implications depending on where in the city they exist. What does meeting, making and performing mean across the city?


Identify potential sites and analyse their suitability. Select a site within your AREA OF INTEREST for the IDEAhaus.  The site should be no larger than 30,000sf.  The site can be any open, vacant or empty lot or any portion of open lot or parking lot. Proof of specific ownership is not essential.  You will be asked to substantiate your chosen site through the use of GIS mapping.

Using the Quantum GIS software, you will be asked to overlay existing and newly created datasets to substantiate a specific site selection.  Site selection will be contingent on the IDEAhaus’ specific use program and the agendas and criterias you have developed for the design of the facility.

NOTE:  You must generate multiple of your own shape files or data sets to map.  Existing GIS data is useful, but will not be adequate to substantiate your site selections.


With use program and site selection established, develop agendas/concepts/motivations for the design of the IDEAhaus and through an iterative process, establish the most appropriate design path/process.

Produce diagrams that explore intent, and produce massing studies that test that intent in place.  You are encouraged to continue to explore possibilities using your site model from the Assemblage investigation.

Develop your design with the necessary documentation to adequately describe the site location, site substantiation, site influences, programmatic influences, programmatic adjacencies and form or massing for the design at your Midterm Review presentation.

IDEAhaus program and site  brief:

– a new Chicago institution.  a network of buildings across the city

– +/-20,000sf

– max 10,000sf footprint

– minimum (FAR) of .75.  maximum FAR of 2(+/-).



  1. What are the potential impacts of your project’s siting and program to your Area of Interest?
  2. What are the influences of the area on your IDEAhaus?
  3. How can the  IDEAhaus interface with your area of Interest?

schedule (key dates):

W         Feb 11              Assignment Launch / Program brief

F          Feb 13              GIS intro lecture / desk crits

M         Feb 16              Program research due

F          Feb 20              GIS lecture / desk crits

M         Feb 23              Concept modeling workshop

F          Feb 27              Cincinnati Field Trip

W         March 11           Mid-term Review


Midterm Review: Wednesday, March 11th, 2015, 2-6pm, Upper Core:

  1.  Programmatic diagrams or research that describe specific uses for the IDEAhaus.
  2.  Minimum one (1) GIS map with a minimum of 3 datasets that have been customized to substantiate choices for IDEAhaus site.
  3. Parti sketch/diagrams supporting your overall concept.
  4. Concept/diagrammatic models in place on an individual site model that describes at a minimum all adjacent buildings and streets.
  5.  Diagrammatic plans and sections that described spatial conditions and sequences.
  6.  Representative drawings that demonstrate spatial experience.

Assignment__Assemblages (forming the Kulturhus)


In what ways can the Kulturhus extend, amplify, complement, supplement (1) the activities and (2) infrastructures of its surroundings?

So far, the use of the Kulturhus has been mapped in relation to an examination and interpretation of the conditions found in the territory.  In part, its influence will be a factor of its ability to participate in the ebb and flow of metropolitan life.   But the city is infinitely complicated and complex.  How can we generate and evaluate many possible relationships before settling on just one?   Students are asked to generate a wide array of possible relationships visible: to investigate hunches about site and building together, in assemblages which knit the two into one continuous model.


  • Refine and substantiate the site selection for the Kulturhus through modeling.
  • Investigate how the Kulturhaus’ activity extends, alters, complements, supplements the activity of the territory.
  • Investigate how the Kulturhaus’ extends, alters, complements, supplements the pattern and quality of infrastructures in the territory.


  1. Begin with a series of Programmatic Massing models to investigate the relationship between  Kulturhus + Site activity.  This model does not separate site as a pre-existing receptacle in which to place the Kulturhus, but is a dynamic integration of  Kulturhus and site.

  2. Evaluate and reinterpret the organizational relationships discovered in Part 1, developing the most promising as tectonic models.   This second step will take some effort and time because its the moment when formal languages, not just basic relationships, are tested.  The goal is to uncover possible ‘grammars’ for the project.   Serra’s Verb list may help you initiate investigation, but its just a starting point.


  1. How does the Kulturhus participate in the site’s dynamics?
  2. How does the Kulturhus engage the site’s infrastructure?
  3. Is the formal language clear and convincing?  Does it describe the actual shape of the building or does it describe the buildings spatial organization.  Does it describe the way that organization affects activity or does it demonstrate tectonics or material concept?
  4. Does the form convey or support the agency of the Kulturhus?


M    02/03        Assignment launch
W    02/05        First study model due
F    02/07        Second study model due / In class workshop
M    02/10        Iterative study models due, 4pm Site Group Conversation 1
W     02/12        desk crit
F    02/14        Assemblage lecture, desk crit
M    02/17        desk crit
W    02/19        Review, Upper Core 2p-6p


  1. Programmatic massing model that demonstrates both the spaces of the Kulturhus AND the activities, infrastructures and spaces of the site.
  2. A minimum of (2) series of iterative study models that demonstrate ‘practice’ in operational modeling.
  3. An assemblage that describes the activity of the Kulturhaus in relation to site activity.
  4. A final study model that models both the entire building AND entire site.

Additional Resources:

Assignment 4: Space, Time, Body, Approach

“The rhizome is altogether different, a map and not a tracing. Make a map, not a tracing. The orchid does not reproduce the tracing of the wasp; it forms a map with the wasp, in a rhizome. What distinguishes the map from the tracing is that it is entirely oriented toward an experimentation in contact with the real. The map does not reproduce an unconscious closed in upon itself; it constructs the unconscious. It fosters connections between fields, the removal of blockages on bodies without organs, the maximum opening of bodies without organs onto a plane of consistency. It is itself a part of the rhizome. The map is open and connectable in all of its dimensions; it is detachable, reversible, susceptible to constant modification. It can be torn, reversed, adapted to any kind of mounting, reworked by an individual, group, or social formation. It can be drawn on a wall, conceived of as a work of art, constructed as a political action or as a meditation. Perhaps one of the most important characteristics of the rhizome is that it always has multiple entryways; in this sense, the burrow is an animal rhizome, and sometimes maintains a clear distinction between the line of flight as passageway and storage or living strata (cf. the muskrat). A map has multiple entryways, as opposed to the tracing, which always comes back “to the same.” The map has to do with performance, whereas the tracing always involves an alleged “competence.”” – G.Deleuze/F.Guattari

Amidst this fragment from the Introduction Rhizome section of philosophers Gilles Deleuze + Felix Guattari’s book Milles Plateaux are a myriad of important critical questions. Here the map is not one of representation but of construction. The map constructed In this way is also a facilitator for construction, and one that is “entirely oriented toward an experimentation in contact with the real”.

To begin the final design of the bath house you are asked to “Make a map, not a tracing”. More specifically you are asked to construct a mapping of the site’s most essential characteristics that will underpin the direction of your project.  This will require you to experience the site and to translate that experience into a construction.


  • Space – This mapping must encompass some portion of the space beyond the boundaries of the park through to a proposed siting of your future bath house. Contained within this space is the physical approach to the site. In addition to the environmental and material conditions, the sites topography is of utmost importance to the spatial mapping.
  • Time – This mapping must explicitly engage with the measure(s) of temporality which make space experiential.
  • Body – This mapping must elucidate the relativity of the body to the space and time of the site.  It is the body which concretizes the abstract condition into physical experience.

In a medium, and at a scale, appropriate to the mapping you construct, combine section, plan, and experiential data into a single assemblage.  All constructions are expected to be presented at level of craft comparable to the precedent drawings.  In some respects the methodologies of this mapping are analogous to the precedent study only with site as subject.