Browse Month September 2021

Week 5 – Sustainability / Equity Development

This week I spent time developing one of the edges of the street a bit further. I tried to include elements to make the space more resilient and equitable. The intent was to take higher-speed traffic and to group them. I took bikes and vehicles to live in a similar space. An elevated berm would buffer the slower pedestrian traffic, and the canopy from the dome would extend over these spaces to provide respite from inclement weather. At the entryway of each perimeter building, a formal space adorned by a large tree and seating arranged side by side captures the message of Socrates’ Phaedrus teachings. I intend to refer to these openings as dialogue gates, designed to encourage the passing traffic to pause and be encouraged to chat?

In terms of the preservation, there is a sensitivity to preserving the iconic façade and form of the existing building while adding the functionality that is proposed. The green space created will take on its own identity. The space that is created between the new buildings and the existing capitol building creates a new identity of blocking out the urban fabric from views within the capitol, which will allow for the respite that is required when having conversations with any real meaning. The dome connects the entire form as one space and protects the people within. The dome can open and close as moments require. The dome intends to have more rigid structure elements that define a form. Still, the overall weight of the structure visually will need to feel light and to achieve this. I intend to utilize lightweight materials such as ETFE.

  • How does your design address social equity and ecological sustainability? 

Equity is the word of the day. Not Equality. Equality is the traditional American concept. The Declaration of Independence declares that “all men are created equal … endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” The 14th Amendment to the Constitution provides that all citizens must receive “equal protection of the laws.” In the traditional understanding, Equality means something simple and easy to implement. The protection of the rights of all individuals, along with the invasion of none of those rights.

Representational equity is when two or more represented groups are standing on a relatively equal footing. To prove representational inequity, therefore, one need not show discriminatory policy. All one must show is the unequal outcome. Corporations and their lobbyist have equal access to their representatives, but the outcomes are unequal. Increasing the number of representatives is one of the tactics in improving access and reducing the concentrated interest of lobbyists. 

Ecological sustainability is built into the overall redesign of the Capitol. The focus is on increasing the amount of sustainable green space, the replanting of all existing trees, and the softscape increased in scale. This will be achieved by having green roofs and removing the vehicular parking that currently exists on the site. The parking garage that will be integrated has a green roof. The Scope of Work for any construction must also adhere to ecological sustainable practices. 

  • How does the master plan, siting, building program, circulation, and massing allow accessibility and transparency? 

The perimeter that builds up and defines the street wall along the perimeter on the North, East and South portions of the site will be both visually and physically transparent. The buildings will integrate softscape and create areas for conversation with the public. There is also a green ring that encircles the Federal portion of the Capitol building. This entire path is accessible to the public at both the grade portions and when it elevates into a bride that wraps around the Eastern portion of the site. Diagram, letter

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  • What is the experience of the users/visitors of the building and how does that experience reinforce your thesis statement? 

The experience of walking along the complete green path allows visitors to walk from a lower level of grade from the Capitol to its highest point which will be higher than the Speaker of the House. A primary concept is to reverse the order of hierarchy and put the People above the Government. The large arena space reinforces the growth of representation to the people and allows the Government to continue representing its people rather than special interests.Text, letter

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  • What measures can you address to improve your building’s thermal performance, biophilia, water management, and other environmental issues? 

A large dome encompassing the entire site will create a micro-climate and controlled space that can reduce the overall mechanical load and multitudes of enclosed buildings under the canopy. In my analysis, I have found that a 10% decrease in mechanical systems is possible.

This week I spent time developing one of the edges of the street a bit further. I tried to include elements to make the space more resilient and equitable. The intent was to take higher-speed traffic and to group them. I took bikes and vehicles to live in a similar space. An elevated berm would buffer the slower pedestrian traffic, and the canopy from the dome would extend over these spaces to provide respite from inclement weather. At the entryway of each perimeter building, a formal space adorned by a large tree and seating arranged side by side captures the message of Socrates’ Phaedrus teachings. I intend to refer to these openings as dialogue gates, designed to encourage the passing traffic to pause and be encouraged to chat?

In terms of the preservation, there is a sensitivity to preserving the iconic façade and form of the existing building while adding the functionality that is proposed. The green space created will take on its own identity. The space that is created between the new buildings and the existing capitol building creates a new identity of blocking out the urban fabric from views within the capitol, which will allow for the respite that is required when having conversations with any real meaning. The dome connects the entire form as one space and protects the people within. The dome can open and close as moments require. The dome intends to have more rigid structure elements that define a form. Still, the overall weight of the structure visually will need to feel light and to achieve this. I intend to utilize lightweight materials such as ETFE.

  • How does your design address social equity and ecological sustainability? 

Equity is the word of the day. Not Equality. Equality is the traditional American concept. The Declaration of Independence declares that “all men are created equal … endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” The 14th Amendment to the Constitution provides that all citizens must receive “equal protection of the laws.” In the traditional understanding, Equality means something simple and easy to implement. The protection of the rights of all individuals, along with the invasion of none of those rights.

Representational equity is when two or more represented groups are standing on a relatively equal footing. To prove representational inequity, therefore, one need not show discriminatory policy. All one must show is the unequal outcome. Corporations and their lobbyist have equal access to their representatives, but the outcomes are unequal. Increasing the number of representatives is one of the tactics in improving access and reducing the concentrated interest of lobbyists. 

Ecological sustainability is built into the overall redesign of the Capitol. The focus is on increasing the amount of sustainable green space, the replanting of all existing trees, and the softscape increased in scale. This will be achieved by having green roofs and removing the vehicular parking that currently exists on the site. The parking garage that will be integrated has a green roof. The Scope of Work for any construction must also adhere to ecological sustainable practices. 

  • How does the master plan, siting, building program, circulation, and massing allow accessibility and transparency? 

The perimeter that builds up and defines the street wall along the perimeter on the North, East and South portions of the site will be both visually and physically transparent. The buildings will integrate softscape and create areas for conversation with the public. There is also a green ring that encircles the Federal portion of the Capitol building. This entire path is accessible to the public at both the grade portions and when it elevates into a bride that wraps around the Eastern portion of the site. Diagram, letter

Description automatically generated with medium confidence

  • What is the experience of the users/visitors of the building and how does that experience reinforce your thesis statement? 

The experience of walking along the complete green path allows visitors to walk from a lower level of grade from the Capitol to its highest point which will be higher than the Speaker of the House. A primary concept is to reverse the order of hierarchy and put the People above the Government. The large arena space reinforces the growth of representation to the people and allows the Government to continue representing its people rather than special interests.

  • What measures can you address to improve your building’s thermal performance, biophilia, water management, and other environmental issues? 

A large dome encompassing the entire site will create a micro-climate and controlled space that can reduce the overall mechanical load and multitudes of enclosed buildings under the canopy. In my analysis, I have found that a 10% decrease in mechanical systems is possible.

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Review Proposal and Site/Program Development

Question 1 – What work did you do this week and what new insights did you gain from your explorations

Answer 1 – This week I looked at the circulation of vehicular and pedestrians through the site. Paths of access for the public – diagramed overlays of the plan from last weeks presentation to think through the circulation of each floor.

There are other ways for the public to engage with congressional representatives and those areas are being designated as “conference” areas where conversation can happen. There are areas adjacent to their offices they can host visitors and open “protest areas” Next steps will be thinking through how the public moves through the building for a variety of purposes.


Question 2 – What was the feedback you received in the review? What parts do you agree or disagree with?

Answer 2 – A controversial and thought-provoking Thesis for sure. The conversations tended to evolve around two topics; the first is the overall form and the second is the security of the building. Below is a sampling of the comments that I received, but I have reduced the full list and focused on comments that will require a better understanding when being presented. 

Comment from Karen Nelson: What do you value about the political processes of the US? What needs revision? What needs keeping? Restoring?

The immediate need is that we have taken away the diversified strategy of governance that was more local. It is common to focus on federal laws, and the media perpetuates this idea. Rather than allowing citizens within California, Massachusetts, or Florida to make their laws and decisions to govern themselves, we focus too wholly on the federal level. To battle this, we need to make it more combative, with more debate. We cannot have critical laws contingent on how one individual will vote and whether we can sway that person. That is the sign of the times when we look at one Senator and say, ” How will he vote, and it will impact all citizens. The goal would be to scale up representation (of the people and not representatives of dictators). The legislators would only pass laws that are genuinely bi-partisan and have obvious benefits to the people. If the legislators cannot agree, that means that it should not be legislated at the federal level and that the States need to take a more significant role in passing laws that would be needed to protect and promote the citizens of that State. That is the overall thinking. I need to find a way to manifest them in the overall Thesis. Right or Wrong, that is the stance that I am taking on the proposal, and I want to try to explore that further. If anything, the Thesis will cause discussion around a serious problem that we have, and I am just trying to put out into the world what I think the solution is. 

Comment from Susan Morgan: be mindful of the use of terms: “preservation” has specific meaning and expectations, in distinction from rehabilitation, conservation, etc. https://www.nps.gov/tps/standards/four-treatments.htm

Yeah, this is important. Carl even mentioned this… I want to find a way to talk about it as being a problem and holding us back. Carl’s comment about preservation rules would make my proposal impossible, which is precisely the problem. 

Question 3 – How do you plan to address your critiques in your work for the rest of the semester? What additional research is necessary? What design problems do you need to resolve?

Answer 3 – In order to address the comments the presentation will need to be an expanded version of what I presented. I will need to supplement the presentation with some of precedent studies that I had done last semester. This will help to justify my design decisions more precisely. 

A deeper understanding of the kit of parts. For example, to know what the significance of the glass dome is. 

The design problem that needs resolution is the conference areas and the overall circulation of the building. Once there is a better understanding of the circulation I can move into the form in order to more quickly get into the design documentation of the building. Part Two of this Week

I put together a series of diagrams below. I looked at the vehicle killer access to the site as well as the pedestrian access to the site. I’ve also indicated as section with the plan highlighted boundary. This is helping me to understand the change in elevations along the length of the site. 

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Contemporary Interior Architecture

I have had a lifelong affinity for clean and simple lines. These designs often pop up in Finish and Japanese designs. The simplicity and rhythm of arrayed lines is so captivating to me. I selected a work by George Nakashima, because it is the foundation of most of the designs that I enjoy the most. A more rectangular form and clean lines. I have been reworking my office and these vertical lines I have been playing around with to find the right proportions before moving into the final design. I have also been playing around with stains to get the right color and sheen. George Nakashima’s form and rhythm is what is driving most of the design decisions. 

My main desk is made of Walnut and differing Walnut veneers, but I have been using Ipe for my vertical pieces as the grains provide interest in depth when it is stained. 

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