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The concept of our Open Source Learning Academy design project this quarter is to design a learning environment for high school students with an emphasis on integrated learning across multiple disciplines. We intend to use a large black box theater space located at the front corner entry of our project as a multipurpose space that is accessible to all four of the OSL’s primary focus groups: Media Design, Product Design, Culinary Design, and Organizational Design.

Creating Connections

After receiving the original project from a classmate, we adjusted the form’s overall proportions and extensively redesigned the project’s interior program. We also chose to keep the original project’s idea of a circulation loop as a way for occupants to experience the building, a way of organizing the program spaces throughout the project, and as a way to shape the overall form of our design.

During the early phases of the design process we decided to place the black box theater near the building’s entrance to signify it’s role in bringing together not only the various groups of students belonging to the four interest areas, but also the OSL Academy as a whole and the surrounding community. The immediate adjacency of the black box to a large central atrium allows for the activities taking place in the black box itself to spill out into a large public space that reaches into other interest areas, such as culinary and product design. Our large, atrium visually and acoustically connects all three floors of the OSL Academy while bringing in a large amount of natural light.

Wall Section

After deciding to place the black box theater near the entrance of our project we created a large wall section to further develop the spatial qualities of the black box and it’s connections to the spaces above and directly adjacent to it. This large scale drawing also allowed us the opportunity to develop the primary and secondary structural connections, facade connections, and materials for this portion of the project.

Classroom Clusters

Branching off this large atrium is a secondary atrium that serves as a way to connect students in their classrooms, or clusters, to a large gymnasium which supports student wellness. The classrooms of the OSL are arranged into two primary clusters that are each made up of four flexible classroom spaces. These four classrooms have the option of being either enclosed or open to a central staircase connecting the two floors of the clusters. The flexibility of these classroom spaces can be mixed to provide students with a variety of learning interactions, ranging from formal to informal, and engaging both visual and auditory connections.

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Structural Challenges

One area of the project we struggled with this quarter was the programming of the third floor of our design because it was formally very different from the rest of our design. The large cantilever the third floor creates over the entrance of the building also called for a different structural system than the rest of the building and we found that whenever we laid out a column grid that aligned with the program needs of the first two floors we would have columns in strange locations on the third floor.

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Design Process

This quarter our design process consisted of a very strong connection between hand sketches on trace paper and digital Rhino models. We frequently found ourselves scanning our drawings with a handheld wand scanner and putting them directly into Rhino as a template to trace. Also, since we created many diagrams to help explain our project, we did a significant amount of work in Illustrator and Photoshop. Our numerous Rhino models and diagrams also helped us design and laser-cut several mass-glass models at a small scale to help understand the overall massing of our project and a CNC cut site showed the ways in which we developed the landscape surrounding our building to accommodate our design.

Project Wrap-Up

Looking back on the project we have developed together this quarter, we are both proud of the progress we have made and our growth as designers. This project has allowed us to develop our design to a greater level of detail than we have previously been able to and we were able to show the depth of thought we put into the organization of our design. Overall we believe this to be a very successful project.

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Contributors: kjbishop13 and bensonkothai