Summer Design Studio

Exploring design culture at Northeastern Univeristy

It’s hard to believe the final review for Summer Design Studio 2015 was a week ago! We are now in program wrap-up mode, but want to take a moment to document the day of reviews. 

Final reviews are an opportunity for students to present their design proposals to a panel of guest critics, as well as to their peers, and to receive feedback about the work. Review conversations address what is successful about a given proposal, and offer observations about how a student might build on and develop their abilities — in terms of process, composition, representation, conceptual logic, etc — when tackling their next design project. 

Last week’s review conversations centered around the proposal each student had made for a small urban shelter in Boston’s Chinatown neighborhood. The designs were thoughtful, well-developed, and well documented, and covered a range of attitudes toward program and form making. It was a highly successful afternoon to wrap up a busy and wonderfully productive four weeks in studio!

Students spent today’s studio time focused intently on preparations for tomorrow’s final review. Across both studios we saw clever experimentation with material coding for final models, careful application of pen and pencil lineweights for drawings, inventive collage techniques for perspectives — even a bit of wordsmithing as students crafted final drafts of their project concept statements! 

This morning Arch 1030 took two modes of MBTA transport to land in Chelsea Mass, the site of Dan and Marie Adams’ current landscape, architecture, and infrastructure project. Dan and Marie both teach in the architecture department at Northeastern and specialize in integrating active global industries into their local context. Dan walked our class through several aspects of the project which include the design of headquarters buildings, port infrastructure, demolition plans, and shared industrial/public park landscapes. 

In studio, students continue to develop and refine their pavilion designs, working across a range of scales and representational approaches. Large models (1/2” = 1’-0” scale) allow students to understand the interior spaces of their pavilions, while smaller models (1/16” = 1’-0” scale) allow them to critically evaluate the relationship between their proposed structure and the surrounding context. Plan, section and elevation drawings test dimensional realities; perspective drawings express ideas about materiality, scale and appearance; and conceptual diagrams distill and articulate the conceptual agenda of each project. We’re covering a lot of ground quickly, and the students are producing excellent work!

Yesterday’s seminar workshop introduced students to perspective drawing, and asked them to construct their own drawings by exploring the communicative potential of composition, color, depth and abstraction. The drawings, based on the students’ studio projects, ranged from literal translations to conceptual interpretations. 

We wrapped up this week’s studio efforts with full-studio pinups. Students presented their pavilion concepts to their peers and instructors, which elicited lively conversation, lots of questions, and a handful of new directions to explore over the weekend. 

Yesterday’s field trip took the Summer Design Studio students to the Rose Kennedy Greenway in downtown Boston. George Thrush, Director of the NU School of Architecture, provided both an historical context and a perspective on the space’s current role as a highly-designed urban park space. 

Studio work in progress…

First round of pavilion models! These were the topic of conversation in today’s desk crits, and we had lots to talk about. Across both studios there were smart observations about program, as well as inventive ideas about space-making, image-making, and material possibilities.  

Yesterday, we traveled by T to Boston’s Chinatown District to familiarize ourselves with the site of our design projects, located at the intersection of Boston’s Greenway, Chinatown and the Leather District.  We looked carefully at existing uses, studied prevailing pedestrian and vehicular circulation patterns, and noted important climactic conditions through a series of on-site diagramming exercises.