anna morcillo paralles Crew Boathouse on the Huron River

This course focuses on the social and physical contexts in which we build, how people perceive the built environment in relationship to existing circumstances, and how outdoor spaces relate to built forms. The work to be undertaken includes both analysis of existing examples and synthesis incorporating the many dimensions of architectural environments in design. The course explores these ideas through the design of a building of modest scale and complexity. This course will focus on developing the following skill sets:

  1. Students will learn how to understand existing topographic conditions and how to propose alterations (cut / fill) that contribute to the design of a site and a building’s relationship.
  2. Students will learn how to analyze environmental conditions (light, climate, water levels along the edge of a river) and will demonstrate this understanding in a building proposal that provides natural light, seasonal flexibility of climate controlled spaces and sensitive siting along a river’s edge.
  3. Students will learn how to study examples of similar buildings relative to how each example is sited, programmatically organized, spatially organized and constructed.
  4. Students will learn how to develop design proposals with a given program (rowing center / crew boathouse) and will demonstrate this understanding at three scales in drawing form.

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Student Work

Jordan Voogt – “Children’s Kayak House”

Situated on the banks of Ann Arbor’s Huron River, the Children’s Kayak House creates a safe, fun space for children to interact with the water and outdoor environment. The centerpiece of the structure is its triangular mesh roof system. This allows users to roam and play across the top of the building, as well as access the water below. Several courtyards, created by the roof system, allow for space-making within the interior of the building. Existing trees playfully peek above the structure through these courtyards. A large deck both mimics the experience of a riverbank walk, as well as creates a swimming area and boat launch. Color and basic patterning were used to enhance the Kayak House’s focus on the world of a child.

Peyton Stimac – “Balance”

Inspired by the precision and harmony of a rowing crew, “Balance” works to capture the essence of the sport in the form of a training facility. The structure poises on a small peninsula on Ford Lake, MI. It’s precarity and delicasy echo a rowboat’s effortless glide across the water. The program is split between 3 levels, the water level sits partially underground and allows access to boat storage and the dock, the second level cuts perpendicularly through the peninsula and houses the training spaces, and the third level cantilevers out over the lake, containing the administrative and lounging spaces, while holding the dock that floats over the water.

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