Category Archives: Abstract 500w

Urban: -Ization & Decay

Publication: Harvard Design Magazine

Thesis: Recent urbanization and development in New York city has resulted in a wholly environmentally unsustainable city with questionable power sources, construction waste, and poor resource utilization all posing major threats to the health of the city.


Questionable power sources, construction waste, and poor resource utilization are just some of the more vexing issues facing the city. These are problems echoed across the country but exacerbated by the volume of people and the proximity within which they live. Things that seem natural to a town have washed away in waves of urbanization and skyrocketing prices for a square foot of rent. The urbanization of New York has been crippled by its piecemeal growth and small scale projects resulting in an incoherent patchwork of an environmentally unsustainable city. While an occasional project will address these issues, there is an ignorance of the need for green that shoots straight to the top. There have been reports of the ideal scenarios for decades from now, but little legislative legwork to keep things moving along the allotted path (Office of the Mayor, 2007). Environmentally conscious architecture and planning isn’t merely a supplementary certification to boast about but rather, urgently needed. As cities draw more and more people from an ever wider range, their scope of drawing for resources grow too. This ever expanding radius and, in turn, impact per person is putting a strain on the country as a whole and its beginning to show. California’s drought, crop shortages, and landfill zones running out of space are just a few of the symptoms of this national epidemic, and some of these problems are affecting the big apple as well (WBEZ, 2015).

Now more than ever there is a need to return to the basics, the lifestyle possible hundreds of years ago is still relevant today. I do not mean to imply by any means that horse and buggies are the new Prius, but rather that using what you have and conserving your resources are a way of life, not a choice. For architects this means designing buildings that are adaptive and designed for their location to use a reasonable amount of energy and attempting to gain some through renewable resources. For urban planning this may mean more green space and better regulation of zoning. The citys’ planning commissions have consistently approved larger and larger projects with disregard for environmental impacts, or based on a set of standards that only address a specific set of issues (Smith, 2002)(NPR, 2010). This has an impact on everyone, from the individual to the largest corporation, and means its time for everyone to take a stand too.

Residents of the city are beginning to take notice of the changes all around them, affecting everything from air quality to even how much sun they see (Hughes, 2015). Some people are becoming inspirited but often times don’t know how best to execute this newfound sense of duty towards the environment. A still smaller group is finding a way to become as small as possible, in an ecological impact sense (Owen, 2004). This article seeks to point out the problems currently extant in New York City and propose a solution on varying scales for the individual and the corporation.

Works Cited:

“Not It!’ This American Life. NPR. WBEZ, Chicago. 10 April. 2015. Radio.

Hughes, CJ. “The Stress of New Construction.” The New York Times. 25 September 2015. Online.

plaNYC: A Greener, Greater New York. New York, New York: Office of the Mayor of the City of New York. 2007. Online.

“Critics Say LEED Program Doesn’t Fullfill It’s Promises.” NPR. NPR, 8 September 2010. Online.

Smith, Neil. New Globalism, New Urbanism: Gentrification as Global Urban Strategy. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. 2002. Online.

Owen, David. “Green Manhattan”. The New Yorker. 18 October 2004. Online.

Reforming Formal Architecture Education

Periodical: Arch Daily

There currently exists a disconnect between the design driven aspect of school and the true workings of an architectural office. This can be corrected by incorporating internships and office experiences into formal architecture education. By changing the formal education that architecture students currently receive, students will have a better understanding of the professional worlds and be better prepared to intelligently solve design problems.

The current formal architecture education works to “expose students to various situations and train them to cultivate and appreciate values” (Chakraborty). The current education given in the studio environment does this well. But when you stop and focus on other things such as construction, you see that these books and writings haven’t been updated anytime recently (Chakraborty). In addition, studio has become rigid and product oriented, but should rather focus on a students development. This skill of development would allow students to adapt to the ever-changing design world that we are now involved in (Design Buildings). This would allow students to work as true design thinkers and problem solvers enabling us to work towards solving local and world problems.

From my own personal experience, the formal education that I have received thus far has taught me how to be an efficient designer and to think creatively. At the internship that I had this summer, I learned many things that I had never ever heard of in school. I learned about the ever-changing state and national codes that define how we design, building spaces, and the buildings. The education that I hope to create based on these experiences “shouldn’t merely be just like being in practice; it should offer the opportunity to experiment, to push and test ideas” as a problem solver would in the design world (Hunter).

One program that could be used as a precedent is the architecture program at Drexel University. At Drexel they have the option to do a 2+4 program. This program starts out the first two years with a formal education of the design process and other fundamentals. The other four years are spent taking night classes and working full-time as an intern at local firm in Philadelphia (Drexel University). This type of education allows students to receive a meaningful formal education as well as gaining real world experience over four years. In addition to the experience, this allows students to start working or potentially completing their IDP hours so that upon graduation they can have some of their ARE exams completed and can sit for the rest of them.

We have these ideas on how to change the education we are receiving, but how do we implement all of this? As mentioned in an article by Robert Ivy for the AIA NAAB accrediting team, we are asking for new design intelligence and real world business practice at the same time. While asking for all of these changes, school budgets are being pulled in all directions, a factor that is often forgotten. I believe that universities, students, and professionals want to better the education that architecture students receive, but we will need to work together to implement any solutions.




-Ivy, Robert. “Practicing Architecture: Take Five: Should Architecture Education Change?” AIA. September 14, 2012. <>

-Drexel University. Architecture home page. Copyright 2015. <>

-Hunter, Will. “Alternative Routes for Architecture” The Architectural Review. September 28, 2012. <>

-Cramer, James P. “A Proposal to Improve Architectural Education” Design Intelligence. November 1, 2012. <>

-No Author. “The Future of Architectural Education” Designing Buildings. July 21, 2014. <>

-Chakraborty, Manjari. “Designing Better Architecture Education: Global Realities and Local Reform” Copal Publishing Group. Copyright 2015. Print. Pages 120-200.


Photo and Work By: Kai Hian Ong. Diploma 13. “Geometric Plate VI-X Chaos vs Order”

Do We Need New Buildings?

There is no real need to build new buildings. 

With so many unused and abandoned buildings, why are we still building new ones? Today, there is an abundance of buildings including factories, houses, incomplete construction sites, stores, and ghost towns available to be readapted. Adaptive reuse is better for the environment, is an answer to poor living conditions and is an interesting design challenge for architects.

The environmental and economic benefits of repurposing abandoned buildings are abundant. For one, there is less use of material throughout the project, as the skin and structure of the building already exists. This also allows for less demolition, material, construction time, and heavy-duty construction, reducing both costs and emissions into the atmosphere. Demolishing buildings creates an incredible amount of waste while also polluting the air with asbestos and releasing emissions into the atmosphere. Also, the energy and cost of shipping large, structural materials would be drastically reduced.

Cities such as Buffalo, NY, where a significant portion of housing is available to be reused, but it is not being utilized. While Buffalo is trying to solve this problem by selling old houses for one dollar with the understanding that they will be renovated, not many people are taking them up on their offer. We believe there need to be more policies in place to attract people to live in these areas like this. Places like this could also be an opportunity to positively affect homelessness and poor living conditions. With so many houses not being used, it only makes sense adapt them for the homeless and the needy.

It may sound easier for architects to chose to demolish and create their own design on an empty site. However, using abandoned or existing buildings creates interesting, compelling design challenges for architects. This kind of constraint will allow designers to create new innovations and solve the issue of respecting the history of the site. Architects give these buildings new life, new meaning, and new function while clearly respecting what went on before their project. This helps a design blend into the language of its surroundings while  still doing something new. This kind of work would not merely be renovation, the entire purpose of the building would be redefined to become whatever our society needs most.

In the end, there are more than enough buildings already existing today to fulfill our needs. We just need to utilize what we already have and stop wasting materials and money creating new buildings.

We are interested in this topic because it is the direction we see our lives heading to in the future. We do not see the point of demolishing a building that could serve the same function of a new one. The preexisting one could serve as a building block that many people ignore and decide not to use.  Building sustainably is such a no-brainer to this generation that adaptive reuse makes too much sense to us. Because of this, we respect reused buildings more than new ones.


Environmental Impact of Demolition Waste – an overview of 10 years of research and experience (Josef O.V. Tränkler, Isa Walker, Max Dohmann. Feb. 1999)

Homelessness and the Low-Income Housing Supply. (Wright, James D.; Lam, Julie A. Social Policy, v17 n4 p48-53 Spr 1987)

Adaptive reuse and sustainability of commercial buildings (Peter A. Bullen, (2007), Facilities, Vol. 25 Iss: 1/2, pp.20 – 31)

Housing and Sustainability: Demolition or Refurbishment (Proceedings of the ICE – Urban Design and Planning, Volume 163, Issue 4, 01 December 2010)

Does demolition or refurbishment of old and inefficient homes help to increase our environmental, social and economic viability (Anne Power 2008)


Periodical Name: Blueprint

Architecture and the Five Senses

Proposed Periodical: ARCADE

Since the invention of the cubicle, mundane office life has plagued the working environment. This day in age employers have made efforts in trying to make the office a more comfortable and productive working environment. Big corporations like Google have resulted in building office space essentially comprised of adult playgrounds so that their employers feel appreciated and unknowingly work longer hours. While this seems great, what about the small businesses that cannot afford to build outlandish spaces? Designing an environment that engages and stimulates workers through the five senses leads to a more productive work environment. Studies have shown that designs that respond to the five senses are more successful than those that do not. Jinsop Lee, an industrial designer, gave a TED talk in 2013 about design that engages the five senses. He explained through his own sensory chart as well as an experiment his friend did in college that activities that included all five senses resulted in better experiences than those that just responded to one or two. While in college Jinsop Lee was asked to design a clock that used the sun. While he thought he was clever in using a sunflower, his classmate was more successful because he used cups of scented oils to tell the time. By appealing to more than one sense, his classmate made a more desirable and ultimately more successful product.

In design we often focus on sight and touch and forget that people also experience smell, taste, and sound. While taste may be hard to incorporate in the structure of a building, architects often design spaces where people experience taste, i.e. an office break room. By designing spaces that engage more than one sense, people evoke wider ranges of emotion. Most people associate experiences with how it made them feel. Subconsciously we evaluate our experiences based on what we see, smell, hear, taste, or touch. We then formulate a response based on these criteria to determine whether or not we enjoyed the experience. A person’s working environment goes through the same evaluative process; however, because it is a place of work people go there because they have to not because they enjoy the experience. Creating an enjoyable and comfortable workspace for employees is the most important thing a company can do and as designers we have the ability to put this thought into action. When one thinks of an office the first thing that comes to mind are cubicles; little confined boxes with a desk, chair and computer. These spaces carry a negative reputation of being boring, jail-like, and not helping a company’s productivity. Employees are the ones who represent and make a profit for a business so making sure they are productive and happy is vital. Designing spaces that focus on the other senses such as smell could lead to innovative office strategies. By stimulating workers through the five senses and providing an engaging environment people actually want to work in, office morale increases which leads to higher productivity.


Pallasmaa, Juhani. The Eyes of the Skin: Architecture and the Senses. London: Academy Editions, 1996.

Stein, Sarah Noelle. “Architecture and the Senses: A Sensory Musing Park.” ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, 2013.

Malnar, Joy Monice. Sensory design. U of Minnesota Press, 2004.

Bahamón, Alejandro, and Ana María Alvarez. Light Color Sound: Sensory Effects in Contemporary Architecture. New York: W.W. Norton & Co, 2010.

Goodwin, Kate, et al. Sensing Spaces: Architecture Reimagined. London: Royal Academy of Arts, 2014.

Pallasmaa, Juhani. “Senses in architecture.”

Holz, Heather. Sensory Architecture: Redefining How One Interprets Space. Fargo: North Dakota State U, 2011.

“Engage the 5 Senses to Inspire Workplace Productivity.” Convene. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Sept. 2015. <>.

Mixed-income Housing Segregation

Periodical: Design Observer

Thesis: While mixed-income housing is the solution for the low-income housing problems, they should produce fair, and ethical rights to our community occupying our cities.


Throughout decades the public housing system has developed many problems. At one point and time affordable housing held so much hope and promise for cities’ poor community, but then they have become centers for crime, violence, and gang activity. Therefore affordable housing projects tend to be rejected by the upper-class community. However, some have become with a better way to carry out affordable housing into our cities without concentrating crime and poverty, and preventing a ‘critical mass’ of low-income housing from forming a ghetto. What is being tried in most cities is the method of spreading out public housing into small low-density units throughout a city. This model gives the parents and their children access to better schools, and employment opportunities. This is a great initiative and could better the housing community. The problem with this is that although the low-income people who are being moved to better neighborhoods are still being segregated from the upper class community, and not only by the upper-class community, but also by some developers.

A development tower rising on the Upper West Side of Manhattan’s waterfront in NYC known as “Riverside South” is a prime example of this problem. The building will offer luxury condos and affordable apartments in the same building, making it a mixed-income building. The problem is that the future owners of the condos will have access to all the amenities of the building, while those who will be on the affordable housing part of the building wont, and are going to be required to enter through another door. This has become known as the controversial “poor door.” According to The Post, Councilman Robert Jackson has proposed a bill that would need city buildings receiving affordable-housing subsidies to give access to the same services, amenities and entrances to all tenants of a particular building regardless of rent price. Yet some have spoken in defense of the “poor door” such as Josh Barro’ Building insider editor. On his article he states, “Getting mad about the “poor door” is absurd. The only real outrage is that the developer had to build affordable units at all” (Barro). Furthermore, According to several studies conducted in several parts of the world states that residents of mixed-income public housing are “widely stigmatized and associated with negative characteristics such as a propensity for criminal behavior and a weak work ethic” (Levy). Also, on a series of interviews with 35 relocated public housing residents at three mixed‐income developments in Chicago made by “City and Community” researchers, the interviewees reported being “singled-out and differentially treated by both the Housing Authority’s administrative procedures for resident relocation and by their new, higher-income neighbors” (McCormick).

These discriminatory practices are denying all people the equality that being human demands therefore, these should not exist. According to a cityscape journal “Mixed-income strategies can succeed in spatially desegregating households by income and improving lives through environmental changes, but so far they have proven insufficient for overcoming social barriers and alleviating poverty” (Levy). If a mixed-income building is the answer to our affordable housing problems, then all the occupants of that building should share the same amenities of the wealthier counterparts, including the fitness center, pool and entertainment room, and give the same level of courtesy and prompt service from the staff.


  1. Navarro, Mireya. “‘Poor Door’ in a New York Tower Opens a Fight Over Affordable Housing.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 26 Aug. 2014. Web. 25 Sept. 2015.
  2. Barro, Josh. “In Defense Of The ‘Poor Door’: Why It’s Fine For A Luxury Condo Developer To Keep Its Low-Income Units Separate.” Business Insider. Business Insider, Inc, 19 Aug. 2013. Web. 25 Sept. 2015.
  3. Levy, Diane K., Zach McDade, and Kassie Bertumen. “Mixed-Income Living: Anticipated and Realized Benefits for Low-Income Households.” Cityscape: A Journal of Policy Development and Research2 (2013): 15-28. Print.
  4. CHASKIN, ROBERT J., and MARK L. JOSEPH. “Social Interaction in mixed‐income Developments: Relational Expectations and Emerging Reality.” Journal of Urban Affairs2 (2011): 209-37. Web.
  5. McCormick, Naomi J., Mark L. Joseph, and Robert J. Chaskin. “The New Stigma of Relocated Public Housing Residents: Challenges to Social Identity in Mixed‐Income Developments.” City & Community3 (2012): 285-308. Web.
  6. Gans, Herbert J. People, Plans, and Policies: Essays on Poverty, Racism, and Other National Urban Problems. New York: Columbia UP :, 1991. Print.

Photography by Tom Bonner

Architecture by Studio 111