Time for Breaks and Reflections

Okay let’s get to it. So it seems to be an interesting task to reflect on mid review even after it happened about two weeks ago. But to begin I’d like to express an opinion of how inhibiting mid-review can be to the design process. It takes place during week 6, when there are so many building features as well as organizational strategies that simply have not been worked out yet. I want to continue mentally developing a project but instead I have to pause design to communicate what I only have so far. But the only rewarding part of this that by week 6 we’ve only dipped our feet into the building features chosen. The form I’ve been led to is just a temporary solution to a greater problem that hasn’t been worked out yet.


This is the beautiful thing about mid-review. It caused me to pause all conceptual development and produce until the deadline. Exercising graphic-making-muscles while putting thoughts on hold. I typically view mid-review as a test run to show any ideas that may appear controversial, inefficient, under-developed, illogical or just plain bad. It’s a great time to practice communicating ideas and concepts to the audience and then seeing if the graphics on the poster match what is being said.

I had a somewhat scripted presentation to give to my reviewers. Before I begin to talk about my building/school I would first have to explain the curriculum of the school to give the audience a sense of occupational scale. Every part of the project has to be communicated clearly though speech and supplemented through the diagrams to help the reviewer further understand the project in order to offer relevant critiques.

I started at the eye level of the poster, at the network diagrams. These diagrams are meant to create a deeper level of comprehension and understanding of the school’s students and their educational process. Understanding the dissolution of the 450 students down to the individual level. The first portion of the network diagram was successful in some aspects of communicating the student division but it didn’t offer much complexity or rigid grouping besides 38 students per grade in each cohort. This simple devising strategy was meant to increase interaction within all grade levels of the school to diffuse the age group identity and implement the cohort identity. The curriculum of my project has further developed with more thought and justification behind levels of organization.

Currently, I’m looking at grouping two adjacent grades into each cohort.

1             2             3

(9-10)    (10-11) (11-12).

The odd part about this type of organization is that a portion of grade 10 and 11 are in two different cohorts. To further break the numbers down to students per grade per cohort.

1                            2                            3

(9-10)                   (10-11)                (11-12)

(113-37)               (75-75)                 (37-113)

There is a strong divide between students of grade 10 and 11 by the cohort organization. I choose not the view this as a problem, but instead an opportunity for the students to pursue their studies at their own pace and move through the cohorts as they best see fit. The school will follow the semester system and each student will spend 3 semesters in cohort 1 [beginning], 2 semesters [intermediary] and 3 semesters in cohort 3 [end]. A diagram will eventually be created to visually represent the cohorts, grades, and student journey. The student’s journey from cohort to cohorts is meant to tell a story, I’m striving to make diagrams to show and tell those stories.

The following diagram is meant to follow in conjunction with the previous network diagram. Understanding the people within the school in a spatial manner. Since it is a school, each student is allotted ~20-30 square feet per person. So I took the different scales of breaking down the dunbar number [5-15-30-50-150] and visually represented the space necessary. The space is built off the triangular module, because the triangle is a commonly used and efficient shape all in architecture (although it is important to mention the counterargument that if you represent each student by the same triangle, then your viewing each student as being identical. Obviously this is not the case with students. Instead, I wanted the triangle to evolve into different shapes to reflect that each student’s identity is unique.) Looking back, the diagram was just another temporary solution to just dip my feet into the greater issue I was getting into. I see it as a rough start, creating these arbitrary perimeters that meet square footage requirements for occupants wasn’t enough. Instead these diagrams are meant to build off the same story. This diagram is beginning to inform the concept. As I have already worked on a concept of education, now the architectural concept needs to tie into it somehow.

The comments I received from LPA really made me think about the different levels of interaction between the four focus groups. The school engages in project based learning and specifically projects that require interaction from all the different focus groups, so now the goal is to create a school that can offer different levels of cross-focus interaction. Something that my atrium was attempting to do.


From the diagrams and the triangular spaces, I would then proceed to explain my project through the floor plans. I personally, thought the floor plans were the most underdeveloped and weakest point of the project during midreview. But nonetheless, they excited some level of deeper discussion on how to relate the ideas of the previously explained diagrams to the form and layout of the school.

The school is designed from the atrium and builds outwards. All programmatic entities are meant to be connected through adjacency to the atrium, the crossroads between programmatic elements. Essentially, the large hole in the middle of my building connects everything that’s already disconnected. What is more, the atrium is shaped in the form of a parallelogram, which is the combination of two triangles, one triangle pointing towards the cohort structures and one triangle pointing towards the 4 design focus areas. These elements continue to take the triangular module and build outwards to create the envelope of the entire school.

Going back to that idea of the atrium, one reviewer I had was simply not convinced of its purpose or existence within the school. As provided in the renderings, it was simply a grand large open space letting natural daylight to come in, located in between different programmatic elements. The functionality of the space was based off the assumptions that adjacency and proximity will encourage students to interact with the space. I’m glad this comment was provided to me because it has caused my to rethink my project in a whole different way. This comment alone has made me reflect back on the design process so far.

Starting with the gameboards

Then the massing

Then the program.

I lost something I had back at the gameboard phase.

Detail. Detail. Detail. Another comment from a reviewer was that the level of development and thinking for different circumstances on the game board was lost in my project. There wasn’t much connection between the game and my school, except for the idea of the triangular module, and even that wasn’t very clear. Instead of thinking about my project formally, and then programmatically, I instead want to envision it through the eyes of the students. The small scale spaces that I’ll interacts with, socialize in, play and laugh in are crucial to making school an engaging place to learn for the students.