“Building Hybrid”  

From the Chicago Tribune  (Section 1, Page 20, 10/06/2013):

A century ago civic architect Daniel Burnham mapped a physical future for this city. He had intended to design social remedies as well but didn’t deliver. Today, with education failures, joblessness, crime and other intertwined challenges confronting Chicago with the fourth great crisis of its 176 years, the Tribune invites readers and organizations to finish Burnham’s work — to address the imperiled livability, uneven prosperity and desperate public finances that have driven residents to leave by the hundreds of thousands. In coming months, you, and we, will explore how this metropolis can better survive and thrive. Together, our mission echoes Burnham’s: Make no little plans.


The Metropolis is a dynamic context with both unparalleled potentials and challenges.  To face both, our thinking must be equally dynamic.

For the remainder of the semester, we will design and develop an architectural project that explores these potentials and challenges by creating new hybrid typologies that respond to the ever changing Metropolis.  Our research and exploration will be based on the existing demographic, social, political, architectural and technical conditions, and we will define new criteria and tools for developing original hybrid solutions that position buildings to remain relevant and responsive in our continually evolving culture.

We will work on two sites, one on Michigan Avenue and one on Fulton Market, and we will design a Hybrid Building that is to combine several disparate activities into a single building that is greater than the sum of its parts.  For each project you will be given a specific site, context and base building program.  You will explore that context and program, and develop new uses to hybridize with the base building.  With those, you will develop strategies and operations for exploring the potentials of their adjacency, and develop an authentic solution for a new building.


– perform research on building use and unknown building typologies and evolve new typologies to address current conditions.

research and document specific contexts and situations that contribute to current social, economic and political conditions

– develop a detailed space program from your research and building planning exercises

– use research to formulate problems and questions that are answered and transformed through your design process

– show different ways how critical components of your research and analyses get synthesized towards a design solution

– frame a position (or set of positions) on behalf of your analysis and in support of your conclusions.

– communicate your ideas precisely and deliver compelling and reasoned arguments

– represent your ideas through focused visual communication

– formulate an evocative representation of a design intent.

– lead a conversation of your ideas and work

– learn to see a building program as a list of uses as opposed to a list of spaces, and mine those uses for their potential to become building strategy


program exploration (due Friday, October 10th, 2pm):

You have already begun this project.  Your work from the past two weeks has given you new lenses through which to explore and analyze both  base building programs AND new programs to hybridize into the Hybrid Building.  Through these lenses, research the context of your particular project.  Establish the history of the situation, and the unique challenges and potentials presented by the design problem.   Research the variety of uses or potential uses that may ultimately compose the final hybrid solution, and critique their potentials.  Develop questions that begin to form the frameworks for design solutions and establish criteria and agendas for answering or refining the questions through a design process.  Agree to and standardize a format for researching the context within your studio, and present your findings on Friday, October 10th.

At the minimum, your research must document the following:

  1.  What is the history of your particular building/site context?
  2. Are there unique site conditions that contribute to the current situation?
  3. What are the potential programmatic uses for the hybrid design solution?
  4.  What are the specifics for each particular use?  Necessity?  Size? Connections between various other uses?
  5.  What questions are generated by the design problem?  What questions could be answered by the potential hybrid solution?
  6.  What problems exist with the current context/situation?  What problems could be created by the particular hybrid solution?

regulating systems deconstruction (deliverables per studio)

Architecture, the activity within, and the spaces and experiences that are developed within are shaped by the assembly of a multitude of building systems.  The richness and quality  of these experiences is directly related to the expert development and manipulation of these building systems.  The architect must analyze, prioritize and then weave these systems together in concert with one and other to develop solutions that are layered, responsive and relevant.

Following the Regulating Systems lecture on Friday October 10th, you will be asked to choose a regulating system for the project and deconstruct it by analyzing it fully.  The regulating systems will become our lenses and we will filter our programmatic explorations through these new lenses to develop new potentials and strategies for hybridizing our building solutions.

concept/concept modeling (concepting workshop in studio, Friday October 17th)

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. -Steve Jobs

On Friday October 17th and over the following weekend, you will explore operational strategies for developing and demonstrating concepts for hybridization.  These strategies will not be representational, but more generative.  You will be asked to bring a variety of modeling supplies, and then explore the nature of the material and operations relevant to your developing notions of hybridization and build several concept models for your project.

More details on the concept modeling workshop to follow.

Parti/schematic design plan diagrams/schematic study model (due Monday, October 27th, 2pm – Midterm Review):

A Parti, from the French prendre parti 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 basic diagrams, models and/or simple statements.

Develop a presentation that frames your strategy by presenting your design process across scale and medium.  Convey the relevant analysis across scales. The success of this dialogue relies on your ability to frame your position and formulate questions.  Begin by clarifying your objectives and criteria. Where has your analysis led you, and what is now driving your process?  Frame the presentation as a curated set of drawings/images/diagrams and models.   Present your work with the intent of developing a conversation regarding the potential of your concept. A clear composition, a well-rehearsed and choreographed presentation, and artifacts of your process which show your design intent will allow for a deep and rich conversation.

schedule (key dates only):

F 03 Oct Project Launch, Modernity and Hybridity Lecture

F 10 Oct Program Research presentations, in studio, Regulating Systems Lecture

M 13 Oct NO CLASS, Fall Break

F 17 Oct Concepting Workshop (2pm, in studio, information will be provided prior)

M 20 Oct Regulating systems exploration due

W 22 Oct MCHAP Event, Attendance is required, NO STUDIO CLASS

M 27 Oct MID-TERM PRESENTATION, 2-6pm, Crown Hall Upper Core


For internal reviews between now and the midterm presentation, use criteria established in studio and your own agendas to properly document and present your process.

Note:  It is critical to develop a process that is at any given moment presentable.  Eliminate the threshold that you see as the place where design stops and presentation begins.  Always produce well crafted drawings and models that are properly formatted for presentation at any given moment.  This is the ultimate time saving strategy.

For the midterm (10/27/14) at the minimum you must present:

  1.  The key components of your research/analysis that have informed your current position. That is, your guide for how you plan to organize your work “on the wall”.
  2. A specific set of questions for your classmates and jurors during your presentation.
  3.  A comprehensive composition of artifacts/representations of your research and design work to date including research documentation, design process artifacts (sketches, study models, etc),  plan/programming diagrams, and a study model. These are the drawings and models that, in speaking for themselves, clearly present and substantiate your current design.  They should answer WHY, WHAT and HOW on their own terms, without your additional verbal support.

Fire House_XL

FIRE HOUSE_city mapping

“In the broadest sense of the word, the definition of research includes any gathering of data, information and facts for the advancement of knowledge.” – Martin Shuttleworth

“Research is a process of steps used to collect and analyze information to increase our understanding of a topic or issue.” – John W. Creswell

Research is a “systematic inquiry whose goal is communicable knowledge.” – L. Bruce Archer

The start of every design process should begin with research – the collection and investigation of real, not hypothetical, data and information.  This investigation is the beginning of the critical process of defining a problem, developing new questions, speculating with answers, and then revising your solutions.

In the instance of the Fire House, this investigation will occur – in a deliberate and controlled manner – across scales – at the scale of the city (XL), the scale of the site (L), the scale of the program (M) and the scale of the structure (S).

We will begin by investigating the relationship between the City of Chicago and its fire stations, using true data, both available and found, and using GIS data viewers and other graphic software.  We will ask ourselves – Where are they located? Why are they located in this manner? Which and what type of areas do they serve?  What might this suppose about Chicago’s varied population density, its urban fabric and its city services?  What does it suggest about the Fire Station itself?  What can you posit from specific data?  And what data is necessary to inform a strong supposition?

– Become familiar with open source Quantum GIS viewer;
– Utilize the Chicago City Data Portal as a source of real (actual) data;
– Learn to intuit questions and develop hypotheses based on collected data;
– Learn to source and use additional data to analyze hunches and answer questions;
– Develop the ability to solve problems based on given criteria sets;
– Interpret and conclude your hunches through the analysis of this data;
– Present your finding in a clear and concise manner.

Over the weekend, you are to download the Quantum GIS data viewer and review several data sets and shape files.  Develop a familiarity with the software and begin to interpret how it may be useful in the design process.

Research a minimum of five data sets, and choose at least three to compare to each other.  Develop hypotheses, and use the data sets to prove or disprove your hunches.  Reiterate, reiterate, reiterate… Use your analysis to learn something new that wasn’t originally evident in the data.

Develop a drawing/graphic/map that merges the visualization of your selected data sets and a map (or series of “plan views”?) of Chicago. Your composed “map” should communicate your investigation and provide a legible supposition of the relationship between the city, its fire stations, its physical fabric and its underlying data.

deliverables (due Monday, September 10, 2:00pm):
1. Present two drawings (map/graphic/table) that clearly present your investigation and communicates your supposition (hunch) of the relationship between the city and it’s fire stations.
a. A single horizontally oriented 11×17 with a cleanly organized set of images that describe the sequence of your investigation.
b. A single comprehensive diagram/drawing/etc describing your final position.

additional resources:
1. Shuttleworth, Martyn (2008). “Definition of Research”. Experiment Resources. Retrieved 14 August 2011.
2. Creswell, J. W. (2008). Educational Research: Planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River: Pearson.
3. Quantum GIS
4. Chicago Data Portal
6. Tufte, Edward. The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. Connecticut: Graphics Press, 2001.
Tufte, Edward. Envisioning Information. Connecticut: Graphics Press, 1990.