Architecture Program



Steve Greco

Date of this Version

May 2006


M. Arch. Thesis, University of Nebraska - Lincoln, May 2006.


I. Project Title
This proposal calls for an Urban Architecture Studio in London, UK. Preliminary programmatic elements include: studios, critic space, library, computer area, residence units, faculty suite, office(s),social lounge, porters’ lodge, dining room, kitchen, cook/maids room, and reception area.

II. Statement of Intent
As a current student with an interest in teaching later on in my career, I am naturally drawn to the design of an architecture facility and how it may facilitate the education that occurs within it. This notion was first presented to me by a representative of LeoA. Daly during a presentation regarding high performance K-12 schools. Their stance was an energy efficient building would not only save money, but also foster a better learning environment. With an architecture school, this notion can be pushed further into more design aspects, not just day lighting. Rather than proposing an entire school, this proposal focuses on a smaller, yet equally intellectual stimulating project: a satellite school in London for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Architecture schools are extremely challenging, yet equally rewarding projects. The significance in designing an architecture school is that not only is there a general public perception of the building, but its main occupants are well-rounded architecture professors and students. The beauty of this is two-fold. On the one hand this potentially offers more valid criticism, yet on the other, more intriguing side, provides an important educational opportunity in design choices.

The initial design intent of this project is to inspire both the architecture community and the everyday passerby alike. This is a topic often debated when asking “what constitutes good architecture?” Naturally, the goal becomes to create an architecture piece exciting and deep in meaning to a student, yet simple enough for person without a design background to understand. For example, a project on the recent cover of Architecture Record, may win approval from the profession, yet not from the occupants themselves. This is a tough topic to argue, but a good starting point is John Ruskin’s quote from The Seven Lamps of Architecture that “Good architecture must speak well, act well, and whatever it has to say or do it must look well.” There are several design topics relevant to both my personal interests as well as the interests offered by my mentor Ted Ertl regarding this proposal. First, the project will incorporate an existing building and utilize adaptive re-use strategies. Due to the historical nature of London’s architecture and the possibility of incorporating it into the curriculum of the school, Professor Ertl’s knowledge in both adaptive re-use and historically preservation is advantageous to this project. He also has served as the London mentor, thus has first-hand knowledge of the cities’ urban conditions, as well as the needs of a study abroad academic program.

Furthermore, since London’s laissez-faire approach to planning has warranted criticism on major architecture pieces, special attention will be given to urban conditions. Numerous prominent buildings in London’s Canary Wharf development produced grand pieces of architecture, yet lacked any connection to the human scale or relation to each other. Urban scale and context are important not only to serve as a learning prototype but may also help establish connections to the neighboring community. Since students are only visiting for a four month stay, a strong connection to the area can foster a better learning environment.

Other personal interests include sustainability, studio culture, and dormitory living situations. As a motivated architect student set to enter the professional world, I feel an obligation not only to be educated in the field of sustainability, but also capable of applying it to a design project. So far in my education I have learned the principles of sustainable design, yet have not directly applied them to any studio project. This project provides the academic architecture community the opportunity to lead by example in the field of sustainability. Background research, mainly case studies and implementation sustainable principles, will be conducted this summer with the assistance of Professor Nathan Krug. A point of departure for the research is Thomas A. Fisher’s fiveprinciplesofsustainableenvironmentalarchitecture:HealthfulInterior Environment, Energy Efficiency, Ecologically Benign Materials, Environmental Form, and Good Design.

Studio culture is also another area of interest. Having five plus years of countless hours of studio experience, one becomes aware of the both the highlights and downfalls of our own Architecture Hall. Not only are these issues to be explored, but other similar buildings will be analyzed, such as sustainable architecture facilities.

Lastly, being a dorm resident of two years and living in a collegiate apartment complex for two more years, I am conscious of some of the successes and failures of the building types. Several issues must be considered when designing for young adult housing, verses typical residential units. These include, noise control, providing a community atmosphere, offering certain amenities, and catering to the particular lifestyle.

III. NAAB Commitment
This project is committed to meeting the NAAB criteria identified by the faculty. The first guideline is a checklist of the minimum 13 requirements that locates where in the process they are applicable to (see appendix ii).

After reviewing the 2004 NAAB Student Performance Criteria, five additional areas are relevant to my project: (8)Western Traditions, (10) National and Regional Traditions, (13) Human Diversity, (15) Sustainable Design, (19) Environmental Systems, (24) Building Materials and Assemblies.

IV. Site Description
There are several good reasons to choose London for this proposal. First, the College already has an established program there. Second, existing conditions provide students new learning opportunities at a larger urban scale, while also offering first-hand experiences of architectural masterpieces.

Based on recommendations made by past London mentors, two specific sites have been identified as are as of interest. Both sites are adjacent to Trafalgar Square, one a property on the Strand, another located at 20 Cockspur. A third site may likely surface after a visit to London this summer. Initial requirements for any proposed site include: nearby public transportation, incorporation of some part(s) of an existing building, and a location in an active urban area. In addition, it must provide enough space for the square footage necessitated by the program, as well as enhance the notion of a building that inspires.

V. Methods
The initial constraints of the project will be refined this summer in order to aid in the selection of an appropriate site. Donna P. Duerk’s Architectural Programming provides the guideline for most programmatic issues.

1. Analysis of the existing state.
During this phase, a site analysis, user profiles, codes, constraints, and climate, are studied along with interviews of past and future London program participates.
In addition to meeting the initial site requirements, potential sites will undergo a detailed analysis. This project will attempt to understand the history of the site, including natural evolution, former use, image and association. Additional mapping of activity and circulation is necessary to understand traffic patterns at both vehicular and pedestrian levels. Several visits are needed document features such as weather, light, noise, and activity. It is essential to observe the site at various times of the day and make observations. Regarding sustainability, issues such as climate, building orientation, and ecological issues are to be documented. Throughout the site reconnaissance, photo interpretations and sketches are the integral medias used to observe. After extensive surveying is complete, information will be formulated into a concise and usable form. Both graphical and written statements will address the essential nature of the site for the purpose at hand. The intention of initial site planning is to respond to the site, not ignore it.

2. Projection of what the future state should be.
The second stage of programming follows Duerk’s four steps in developing a program: create a mission statement, develop project goals, design measurable performance requirements, and develop conceptual relationships. First, the mission statement defines the intent of the project. Next, in order to accomplish the mission, goals are developed to express the level of quality to be reached by the final design regarding all design issues uncovered in the analysis phase. Then, in order to realize design goals the building must work in a way to promote certain attributes. A performance requirement is a statement of measurable function the design must live up to. Lastly, concepts must be developed in order to illustrate the ideal organizational level of function.
Concluding the pre-design phase, additional case studies of similar programs, architecture educational facilities, dormitories, and adaptive reuse projects will be explored.
Initial case studies include the John Soane House Museum in London and a Falkestrasse rooftop remodel in Vienna. These projects are similar to the proposal in how the context of the project lies within a historic architecture district. After a finalized programming document is produced and a specific site selected, comes the Project Description. This document clarifies the intent of the project and provides programmed space requirements. Following pre-design, the project will follow the traditional route of schematic design and design development for studio projects, with routine progress checks and more formal critics along the way.

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