Summer Design Studio

Exploring design culture at Northeastern Univeristy

The Moment of Truth

After four weeks of hard work, many hours in studio and numerous revisions, we finally reached the day of our design proposal presentation. After pinning up the compilation of our projects from the past weeks along the studio walls, we had the pleasure of Marie Adams joining us as a guest critic and sharing her feedback with us. The critiques began with each student describing their process and how they came to the final design proposal. The class projects were diverse with ideas such as galleries, music venues, skating rinks and even living areas, to name a few. We then heard from each of our critics, who asked us questions or gave us suggestions on how we should proceed if we were to continue our work. Collectively all of the feedback was quite contrastive and we were able to learn valuable information from each project’s flaws and strengths. It was amazing to see how many strong concepts could come from such little time, but it definitely highlighted our potential to be successful designers in the future.

The Final Chapter

After 4 weeks of an intense architecture program, it all comes to an end in the place where it started. Everyone still had a sense of tension from the pin-ups from the other day, but everything was glued together once we were able to conclude our own story of summer design studio 2013.  Each picture from the diagrams and models wrote the final chapter to our time.  I know I will miss this group when I leave, but they will always be my second family from home.  The amount of bonding we have done and the amount of work we have accomplished is unfathomable. I could not have asked for a better summer.  And so, I conclude this blog with pictures of what we have left to communicate.  This is Tyler Nguyen signing off.

Discussion with Carolina Aragon


On Wednesday, Carolina Aragon came and talked to us about her work and how she uses art and design to create an identity for herself. Carolina is the coordinator of the UMass Amherst Summer Design Studio. She also teaches a studio class for undergraduates at UMass Amherst. Carolina is an accomplished artist as well as architect and has a couple projects that she talked about. One of the projects that stood out to me was the flocks project in Cambridge on Cambridge St that used reflecting Mylar that were shaped like birds to mirror the effect of bird flying. The project got a lot of positive reviews and made a great impact on the community surrounding Lechmere and Inman Square. Carolina was one of the most enthusiastic people I have ever met in general and also is very invested in her work as an artist that can work to bring together communities with design and art. She is an inspiration to me because she uses fairly simple ideas to convey an amazing and fascinating idea and I am really glad that I got meet her and have a discussion with such a vibrant spirit in the Architecture world.

—Sebastian and Simón

The final review is behind us!

Studio wrapped up yesterday with a pin-up session during which each student presented their design proposal for the Rose Kennedy Greenway. We were lucky to have Marie Adams join us as a guest critic. Marie teaches first year studio at Northeastern and was able to share with the students particular insight about how to focus and develop their design abilities and process as they move forward with their education. 

The range of project approaches was exciting to see, and the tremendous effort the students put in this past week was on full display. 

Transitioning Through the Public Realm

On Monday, our class visited the Boston Public Library where we studied how people move through space. We particularly focused on the transitions through the building and how they helped with the flow of the different programmatic uses. For example, the shift from the hallway to the reading room was made apparent by the change in ceiling height, the grand entryway, and the decreased level of noise. As we continued our path through the library, we sketched and took notes on the important aspects of the public realm, which can be defined as a space that people can make what they want of it. For instance, the main entrance on Copley Square is used for completely different purposes than the interior of the building. Overall, the path through the library helped us understand the importance of transitions and the different uses of public realms.

-Maddie and Maria Elena

Meeting Lynn Burke

Today, we met Lynn Burke, the Assistant Associate Coop (internship) Coordinator at Northeastern University. Lynn works with undergraduates in architecture including new landscape architects. She also teaches a professional development course for students of the university. Later in the presentation, she stressed the importance of building a resume. Lynn discussed the importance of including both “creativity and uniqueness” in your resume to entice reviewers. She later gave us pointers for the interviewing process, including prior research, preparing questions, and setting up a “professional interview”. A professional interview is an informational meeting in which the aspiring student asks questions about the interviewee’s area of expertise. Subsequent to the interviewing process, her presentation began to focus on creating a portfolio. This aspect of the application process was not a highlighted point in her talk, but she touched on what is required (having both an online and hard copy). It was really helpful to talk to the director of the coop program as prospective students because she gave valuable insight to the coop program.

-Jacob and Adit

Lights, Camera, Fabrication!

The focus of this week’s seminar discussions is Process.  On Tuesday, Chris Genter, a designer and project architect for Utile, Inc. Architecture + Planning, came in to talk about his involvement in the Harbor Park Pavilion project on the greenway. Chris and his staff were asked by the Boston Harbor Island Alliance to design a space on the greenway that would provide a strong presence for the harbor islands in the city. Their proposal included two outdoor kiosks that could sell tickets and provide information about the harbor islands. A key design element was the curving roof feature on the pavilion.  The roof’s unique shape allows for the pavilion to collect rainwater in order to irrigate the surrounding planters. Chris spoke about the difficulty of modeling the roof because of the unique curvature.  His team had to change the design of the roof several times in order to adequately satisfy the needs of the pavilion. His modeling techniques included fabricating the roof of the pavilion similar to the way the haul of a boat is assembled. They made several models of plywood frames that simulated the strength and curvature of the roof. It took his team many tries to finally nail down the final design of the roof, which outlined how sequence is used in the design process. The project was particularly important to us because of the Harbor Park Pavilion is located at the Rose Kennedy Greenway, the site of our own design interventions.  Chris’s advice is helpful as we begin the design process and produce models for our final project.
A film crew filmed parts of the morning seminar, and afternoon studio. We were interviewed on various aspects of the Summer Design Studio Program.  The plan is to create an interest video for next year’s summer class to communicate vital aspects of the program to prospective Summer Design Students. 
- Jacob

Perry Dean Rogers Office Visit

imageLast Friday, we took a trip to the Perry Dean Rogers office where we met with Ryan Senkier who took us through the process of building a new library for the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. The sequence of steps that is taken when designing a building is known as the project delivery process. The office visit underscored the importance of this process and the invaluable role it plays in the development of a design plan and ultimately a well-crafted building. The explanation provided by Ryan of the specification manual, Revit plans, and digital models of the library aided in our understanding of the design process and the level of specificity it requires. The office visit opened our eyes to the reality of the responsibilities of architects and taught us that one must be passionate about what they are doing in order to be a successful architect.

-Olivia & Rachel

As the students develop their design proposals, they are learning to look critically at the environment around them for inspiration and feedback. This week each student documented instances of program organized in section. In some cases the vertical distribution of program was substantial — spanning a whole floor in a building — and in other cases more subtle — defined by a few inches of elevation in a room or a landscape. 

(Photos courtesy of Jack, Nadia, Adit, Maddie, Maria Elena, Rachel and Tyler).