- Key / Essential / Unique Design Features
For my project, a major design feature is the large central atrium (shown in the image below). The building surrounds this space and also features an opening to the outside area, allowing those outside to feel welcomed in. There are a lot of windows and curtain walls facing the main atrium to make this a very open space and make the occupants feel connected throughout the building. The part of the building creating the opening also steps down to create an architecturally interesting feature as well as allow for small terraces on the two upper floors. There are also two “mini atriums” in the corners of the building (one on the east and one on the west) that extend from the ground floor to the top. The second photo below is a view of the west mini atrium from the third floor.
- Your Big Successes
I am happy with the building overall, and I think my major ideas for the shape and layout worked out well. I really like the overall shape and feel like it reflects the feeling of openness and community that I wanted to bring to the space. Putting the lobby in the north side of the building (opposite the opening, level 1 floor plan shown in first image below) so people have to walk through the central atrium to enter also helps draw people in and reinforce this idea of interconnectedness. I also made a point to have a lot of window space on the east wall to offer views to the lake for the people in those spaces as well as a balcony attached to the conference room and one of the private offices on the second floor, captured in the second image below. I also think the use of concrete for the structural system for the ground floor and visible timber for the upper floors turned out well and allows for the incorporation of natural building elements and biophilic design for those upper floors.
- Your Big Challenges
The biggest challenge for me was placing windows and fitting all of the different systems together, particularly finding space for the HVAC system. In retrospect, I would research more examples to take specific inspiration from and give more thought to each system at the very beginning of the project. For example, I had not considered where I was going to place the air handling units when designing the layout of the building. I was able to place a few on the roof of the building, but had I given it more thought when deciding the layout of the rooms, I might have decided to put a mechanical room on each floor. Additionally, while the shape and size of my building allowed me not to have columns in the middle of any spaces, some columns blocked windows and doors or stuck out significantly into corridors. In the future, I would think more carefully about door and window placement and just generally consider how the different systems would fit into the architectural model from the beginning.
- Lessons Learned
A big piece of advice I would give to future students is to not get too hung up on the details. I sometimes felt like I spent too much time on small layout changes or making sure different systems did not clash, etc. and lost focus of the big picture idea and my overall goals for the project. I think giving yourself a time limit to work on the smaller details and revisiting the goals from the beginning of the project before working on each module could help keep these goals more clear and make sure your work is aligning with them. Also, setting aside time at the beginning of the week to watch the module videos and sticking to it to make sure you do not fall behind.