Kids These Days

Kids These Days

To fill you in on what you missed, and to follow up on our conversations last fall with local deans (See Dean’s Listt AN 14_9.7.2004) we asked the faculty of each of the tri-state area architecture schools to select a single outstanding project from this year’s crop of student work. Although one project can never represent the breadth of student achievement or faculty instruction at a given institution, the work below reflects something of the current trends in architecture education and pedagogy.

Jeff Carnell

Jonah Gamblin and
Tuan Luong

Bridget MacKean

Amila Salihbasic and
John Murphey

John Guilliford and
Yeon Wha Hong

David Benjamin and
Soo-in Yang

On a Monday afternoon a few weeks ago, The Architect’s Newspaper asked the students whose work follows in these pages to join us for a casual conversation about their experiences at school and the questions they face as they prepare to join the workforce. Ten of the fifteen studentssDavid Benjamin, Jeff Carnell, John Gulliford, Yeon Wha Hong, Jonah Gamblin, Tuon Luong, Briget MacKean, John Murphey, Amila Salihbasic, and Soo-in Yanggsat down with editors Anne Guiney, Cathy Lang Ho, and William Menking to chat about everything from the difference between development politics in New York City and the Netherlands to the apparent decrease in the influence of theory on today’s students. As expected, nobody wants to be a CAD monkey, and most felt that a small firm would provide better early experience than a large one. One of the most interesting questions discussed was What is and should be the role of the architect today?? Here’s what some of these talented students had to say.

David Benjamin (Columbia): The first challenge for ussand it sounds like others here are just as interested in thissis how to move beyond the computer form-making that was so exciting a few years ago, and actually build these things. We also want to take on more real-world issues, from using fabrication machines to dealing with developers. I’d hate to lose theory, and hate for architects to lose our role as people who can imagine a new world, but I want to engage more fully in that world..

Jonah Gamblin (Yale): When everyone first got into the studio [with developer Gerald Hines], we were all trying to actually be like developers. But later, there was a moment when we started to ask ourselves, Okay, what qualifies you to be involved in this process?’ It isn’t valuable for architects to pretend to be developers; they have a particular expertise they can bring to the table, which is different from that of the developer or the engineer. In the studio, many of us ultimately had a sense that architects can come up with novel ideas for the organization of buildings..

Tuan Luong (RPI): I think an important thing we can bring to the table is sensitivity toward site, from the cultural aspects to the more ephemeral ones that developers wouldn’t necessarily think about. If they’re thinking about the bottom line, we’re thinking about how it might improve the lives of people in the long term.

John Gulliford (Pratt): I think that while developers typically focus on one element or one function, we can make connections between these different things, and actually allow one element to have multiple functions. That comes from the places from which we draw inspiration, the questions we ask..

Amila Salihbasic (NYIT): We can’t forget that every day we influence people’s lives. We can’t forget why we’re doing what we’re doing. We’re here for the people. The only thing developers care about is money. It’s our duty to shape this world. We can do this..

Yeon Wha Hong (Cooper Union): I think architects operate at a whole different scale than the people who have started working in the realms that are traditionally the territory of architects. What makes us different is that we are public intellectuals, and our generation of architects should fight for that. When we build we must address historical context and social fabric. We have a specific language, which has its own history, its own language. We’re engaging in this dialogue at a completely different scale..


Jeff Carnell, 27, B.Arch 2006

School: City College of New York
Studio: 4th-year Design (fall)
Project: weekend residence in upstate New York
Instructor: Joe Tanney

Jeff Carnell’s fourth-year studio assignment was to design a 3,500-square-foot weekend retreat on a 2-acre lakeside lot in upstate New York. He set the house on the steepest part of the sloping site so that residents park at the highest level to enter the house. From the office and laundry on that level, one descends to ever more private spaces below until reaching the master bedroom just six feet above the lake’s water level. I wanted to reinforce the remove from the city with an inversion of the standard order of houses,, said Carnell.


David Benjamin and Soo-in Yang, 32 and 30. respectively, M.Arch I 2005

School: Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation
Studio: Advanced Architecture (spring)
Project: open research
Instructor: Reinhold Martin

This project, titled Better, Cheaper, Faster, asks the question, What if bottom-line development and good architecture were the same thing?? Its designers David Benjamin and Soo-in Yang believe that new computer-based fabrication techniques can offer a link between good architecture and the bottom line mentality of real estate developers. They designed a lightweight, collapsible framing system of CNC-milled 1/4-inch Baltic birch plywood that could replace typical balloon framing and its formal limitations. The designers tested the system by building a 10-foot cube. We wanted to use CNC technology for its efficiency rather than for form,, Benjamin explained, and in the process develop new ways for architects to engage the process of design and construction.. The two recent graduates are starting a firm called The Living ( to develop the idea in larger-scale projects.


Thomas Wong, 22, B.Arch 2006

School: Cornell University, College of Art, Architecture and Planning
Studio: Ottoist Diversions: From Form Finding to Pattern-Breeding (full year)
Project: open research
Instructors: Ciro Najle and Jose Arnaud

This research project titled Cantenary Bifurcations, Tree Organizations began in a studio based on Frei Otto’s experiments with catenary chain net structures. Cataloguing structures of catenary curves and the spatial effects that emerge by varying the distance between their endpoints, Thomas Wong began building structures that bifurcated in tree-like patterns. To create a spatial enclosure modeled on his research, Wong looked at the inherent logic of growth and directional accumulation of site specific conditions in local Ithaca fauna, such as vines on pergola ribs.. According to Wong, The more branching that happens, the better the structural capacity of the shell..


Yeon Wha Hong, 22, B.Arch 2005

School: Cooper Union Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture
Studio: Thesis (full year)
Project: open research
Instructors: Anthony Vidler, Guido Zuliani, Stephen Rustow, Anthony Candido, Tamar Zinguer, and Ricardo Scofidio

>It was interesting for me as a New Yorker to research the whole city of Kyoto as a site,, said Yeon Wha Hong of her project, RE-Writing of the Kyoto City Block: Inventing a Language of Spatial Characters. The East-West orientation of blocks in Manhattan is reversed there, and there is a different relationship of streets to blocks.. Hang used this research, as well as an interest in the formal similarities of Japanese joinery, old maps of Kyoto, and pages produced with moveable type to design a block in the city for the relatively transient foreign community there. She explained that she was interested in the program because it was an alien overlay on a fixed urban condition…


John Murphey, 23, B.Arch 2005

School: New Jersey Institute of Technology
Studio: 5th-year Comprehensive (spring)
Project: open research
Instructor: Richard Garber

This articulated structure may look like the bastard child of Ron Herron’s iconic Walking Cityy and a dinosaur skeleton, but it’s actually the result of adapting plywood yacht hulls and modular submarine construction methods to the design of what John Murphey calls a Command Pod for rapid deployment by scientists and researchers in the field.. Murphey intends the structure’s ribs to be built out of water-jet cut laminated plywood, and covered with a molded plywood shell. The pod’s adjustable steel legs lift it off the ground to withstand severe environmental conditions. Murphey emphasizes that his current pod is a base model only and may be modified as needed.


Santiago Rivera Robles-Martinez, 32, M.Arch III 2005

School: Parsons School of Design
Studio: Thesis (full year)
Project: hotel, open site
Instructor: David J. Lewis

When Houston Street was widened in 1940, a row of tenement buildings was knocked down, leaving several odd-shaped lots. Santiago Rivera Robles-Martinez’s thesis project returns a triangular piece of that space to residential use, albeit in the form of a hotel, which would also allow him to blend public and private uses. The typical New York facade breaks public and private abruptly and I wanted to challenge that architecturally,, he explained. The sidewalk is periodically pulled into the building to create a series of public spaces such as a DJ lounge and an open-air cinema; Rivera Robles-Martinez thinks of it as an inhabitable facade.


Amila Salihbasic, 28, B.Arch 2005

School: New York Institute of Technology
Studio: Thesis (full year)
Project: open research
Instructor: Mark Chen

For a contemporary dance center on the south side of Houston Street, Amila Salihbasic considered the work of a number of contemporary dance troupes. She said she thought a great deal about the way that dancers in the New Yorkkbased group De La Guarda managed to occupy walls and ceilings as well as floors, and Diller + Scofidio’s work on the dance piece Moving Target (1996). On the facade of her design, a single plane folds up and around toenclose distinct programmatic spaces, both public and private. I wanted to show movementtpedestrians, what is happening underground, all the vehicles, and the people within,, said Salihbasic. The building is a kaleidoscope showing all of that at once..


John Gulliford, 24, B.Arch 2005

School: Pratt Institute
Studio: Thesis (full year)
Project: open research
Instructors: Marc Schaut, Gordon Kipping

John Gulliford chose his Astor Place site for his project Social Synthesis because of its extraordinary energy: the Cooper students, skate rats, honking taxis, and passersby who always seem to be around. That energy also suggested a natural analog for his skyscraper: In starting my research, I was drawn to the human bodyythere are so many systems coexisting at onceeand I started to think of the building as a vertical body,, said Gulliford. He wanted to pull the energy up into the building at certain points, and began to think of them as chakras, or the seven spiritual points believed to be in the human body. The program fell into place accordingly, with an uninhabited Divine Zonee at the top of the tower, and a public Energy Lounge and Studyy at the base.


Erica Goetz, 26, M.Arch I 2006

School: Princeton University School of Architecture
Studio: Integrated Building (fall)
Project: hotel and restaurant in the Hudson Valley
Instructors: Paul Lewis, Hillary Brown, and Nat Oppenheimer

Erica Goetz harnessed energy from the natural forces of the sitee for this project for a lakeside hotel and restaurant in the Hudson Valley. She created a variant of a trombe wall for the facade: the internal side serves as the retaining wall, and transmits the temperature of the earth (cool in the summer and warm in the winter) inside. The external concrete wall is faceted in such a way that heat is deflected in the summertime, and absorbed in the winter. Instructor Paul Lewis said, Erica’s design has a formal complexity that is seductive yet based on the simple argument of a self-shading building..


Bridget MacKean, 22, B.Arch 2005

School: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Studio: Thesis (full year)
Project: open research
Instructor: Jefferson Ellinger

This proposed artists’ residence in Maine’s Arcadia National Park is sited next to a beach with 15-foot tidal swings. Bridget MacKean first created digital maps of the site and used animation technology to map how the oscillation of the tides transformed the landscape over time. She employed this technique to design her building as a part of the natural system. MacKean stressed that her goal with the project was oriented more toward research than design: I wanted to experiment with Maya in a more analytic manner, instead of just using it for form-making..


Tuan Luong, 24, M.Arch I 2005

School: State University of New York, Buffalo
Studio: Thesis (full year)
Project: open research
Instructor: Omar Khan

This installation focused on a 1/2 scale model of downtown Buffalo’s highway system. Titled Fluxuations: the Perceptual Transformation of Architecture, the project included a machine created by Tuan Luong that could scan across the city model on ceiling and floor tracks and project the information in full scale onto an adjoining wall. Luong explained that he was interested in the transfer from an architect’s model to full-scale realization: The machine creates a dialogue back and forth between the scales and questions the working design method of the architect.. Luong hopes to further develop a process whereby information projected on the walls can generate the design for a building.


Christopher Hayner, 22, B.Arch 2005

School: Syracuse University School of Architecture
Studio: 5th-year Thesis (full year)
Project: open research
Instructors: Elizabeth Kamell and Ivan Rupnik

This mobile home design project titled TransPLANTing a Migrant Community is intended to serve migrant workers, solving the itinerant group’s long-standing housing problem. Designer Christopher Hayner argued that traditional barrack-like housing does not allow for either privacy or individuality, and at the same time cuts the workers off from their adopted communities.. Hayner started with typical mobile home technology and a utility core for easy accommodation in RV parks, and modified the unit to create a unique configuration. For example, a pull-out porch with a barbeque allows the home to become part of a larger community, while private quarters face the back. The home also has a greenhouse on its roof to grow food for the poverty-stricken and land-starved community.


Ralph Bagley IV and Jonah Gamblin, 25 and 27, respectively, M.Arch I 2005

School: Yale School of Architecture
Studio: Advanced Design (spring)
Project: fashion museum and school in Milan, Italy
Instructors: Stefan Behnisch and Gerald Hines

Under the guidance of the architect Stefan Behnisch and the developer Gerald Hines, Ralph Bagley IV and Jonah Gamblin developed a proposal for the Fondazione Nicola Toussardi (a fashion museum and school in Milan), which is the public element of Garibaldi Republica, a project currently in development by Hines. According to Gamblin, the two spent the first half of the semester developing a software program that would help them synthesize financial information and site demographics, and used the results to develop planning strategies for the building. Only then did they begin to design the building. According to Gamblin, We were studying the financial implications of different architectural decisions, and looking at how you can use the economic logic of a project as a way to find new design strategies, as opposed to seeing it as a restriction..