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brendan

denommee
master of architecture
segment one portfolio

tableofcontents
foundation studio

p. 4 seaside observatory: scale, tectonic, and program

visual

thinking

p. 14 visual representation skills and precedent study

seaside
observatory

scale,

tectonic,

and

program

background
This project began where the
previous projecta paper structure
designed for a marble to traverse
left off. We were to create plans and
sections of the structure, and then
imagine them at a larger scalew as
drawings of a place meant for human
habitation. I noticed that the plan of
my marble structure (above) might
be able to function better as a cross
section of one of the sections from
my structure (below,) and started to
sketch out how a resultant building
might look (middle).
The two main ideas that emerged
from this exercise and evolved
throughout the project were a long
curved overhang and an area with a
view from above.

This project also marked the


beginning of discussion about
tectonic, or how materials come
together to create spaces. We
started with a threshold model of
an important transition space in
the design. I was completely new
to model construction at this point,
and unsure of how to accurately
assemble the structure represented
in my drawings. This resulted in a
flattened overhang and an overall
unstable model.

developingscale
One thing that became evident throughout
the following iterations were issues with
the buildings scale. The set of drawings
following the initial sketches featured
a flattened, truncated roof because at a
scale of 1/8 = 1-0 the drawing would
not have fit on the sheet of paper! At
this point the roof was over 70 feet high
and only about 20 feet long, completely
losing any aspect of a useful overhang.The
squared-off shape also detracted from the
buildings visual interest.
The next iteration brought a return of the
long curved roof, now brought down to a
height of about 30 feet and elongated to
maintain a sense of enclosure.

I also created diagrams of this new


iteration to examine how the changes in
scale within and around the building might
affect the way people occupy the various
spaces. It is from this point that I began to
develop the buildings program.

opposite, above and middle: sections of first drafted


iteration with high, truncated, and squared roof.
opposite, below and this page, below: sections of the
following iteration with scale figures showing how the
building might be occupied.
above: diagram exploring degrees of enclosure within
and around the building; cooler color indicates a greater
sense of enclosure.
middle: diagram exploring movement; a higher peak
indicates more time spent in that area.
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right: model showing new roof/floor


structure and position on cliff.
below: three sketch models of potential
roof designs; the design on the left was
developed further into the final model.

structureandprogram
With the return of the roof and an addition
of a curving face to the building, I began
to look into the idea of using the roof
plane as one continuous surface thatt
could be both a roof and a floor. I settled
on a design in which a portion of the plane
swept down to become the floor of the
interior wwwand a ramp into the building.
It was around this time that I devised the
idea of the building functioning as an
ocean observatory and decided to attatch it
to the side of a cliff in order to offer more
variations in spatial experience.

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Critique questioned the structural integrity


of the new roof structure and the perhaps
unnecessary complication of adding the
cliff. This led to another model which
was once again on level territory but this
time included a concrete stair shaft at the
buildings core, piercing the roof/floor plane.
The long overhang still posed structural
problems, however. The next iteration
attempted to fix this problem with the
addition of a second concrete shaft and a
reintroduction of the cliff, both features
which became important to the final product.

above: model of the iteration that saw the


introduction of the concrete core.
left: model featuring the return of the cliff
and the second stairwell; both became
integral to the buildings program.
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clockwise from top: section perspective


detail showing area where thresholds
converge; perspective from ramp up
towards roof; perspective of view along
cliffside from within the structure; section
perspective of entire building.

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focusontheexperience
In the end, it became clear that a full
understanding of this building relied not
on plans, sections, or models, but on
perspectives and diagrams. The program
becomes more clear as the buildings parts
are examined in relationship to its thresholds
between the occupants varying spatial,
visual, and tactile experiences.

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visual
thinking

representation skills and precedent study

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skill-building
Many of the assignments in
this class were focused around
gaining confidence in various 2d
representation techniques. Some of
these assignments focused mainly on
hand-eye coordination and drawing
accuracy, while others encouraged
us to find different ways of visually
representing abstract concepts.
Though simple in nature, the sheer
volume of these assignments amidst
other more rigorous work placed
emphasis on time management.

opposite page, clockwise from top left:


practice drawing straight horizontal lines;
studies of various hatching patterns;
architectural lettering practice.
this page: operative verb representations.
Each picture illustrates the effect of a given
verb on an axonometric cube. Top to bottom,
these three represent nest, slice, and
split.
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left: detail from axonometric drawing.


opposite, top: plan utilizing shade and
shadow while also showing the buildings
interior spaces. This view was chosen to
communicate the buildings focus on a
blending of interior and exterior spaces.
opposite, middle: south (above) and north
(below) elevations with scale figures.

precedentanalysis:
barcelonapavilion
A large portion of the course was
dedicated to studies of an assigned
modernist object buildingin my case,
Mies van der Rohes Barcelona Pavilion.
A lot of time was dedicated to various
orthographic reproductions of the building
as well as some background research
on Mies design process. These studies
provided practice in hand drafting
techniques and diagramming principles.

below: diagrams over the plan of the pavilion. left


to right, they show structural systems (a major
component of the pavilions spatial logic); plane
depth (the relative height of the horizontal planar
elements); and axes vs. furniture (an arbitrary
study that revealed a sense of assymetrical
balance, another key feature of the structure).

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newperspectives

This rigorous analysis of the Barcelona


Pavilion culminated with a conceptual
collaged perspective of the building.
I was fascinated with the idea that
the buildings only purposes were to
display itself as an image of a modern,
democratic Germany. I was especially
stricken by the irony of Mies aesthetic
decisions, such as the strict machinemade look of the columns and furniture
(which were meticulously hand crafted)
and the prohibitively expensive materials
that were meant to represent the new
wealth of the working person in the
industrial era.
I proposed that this 20th century
idealized reality made by floating
planar elements, tightly controlled views,
and forced discontinuity from an axial
pathway had been brought into the 21st
century by way of the smartphone.

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above: constructed perspective of the building


left: preliminary thumbnail sketch of perspective collage
opposite: final perspective collage.

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top & middle right: sketches done during drive


bottom right: initial concept sketch of map layout
opposite: final mapping

drive:
mappingboston
This assignment was based on the
Situationist International practice
of the drive, a journey with no
prticular goal, carried out to find the
real city behind the consumerist
spectacle of the city.
Over the course of four hours,
I traversed the Isabella Stewart
Gardner Museum, Boylston Street,
Yawkey Way, the Back Bay Fens,
the Museum of Fine Arts, and then
ended at South Station. Throughout
my journey, I took rigorous notes
about my moods, ideas, reactions
and compulsions. Recurring themes
included the role of religion in a
thoroughly commodified landscape,
the interplay between sacred &
profane spaces and high & pop
culture, and the general flattening
of affect brought about by paying
a little bit too much attention to the
workings of the world.
This collage was done mostly by
hand and then stiched together and
edited digitally.

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right: three typographic compositions of the


beetle, each presenting a different conceptual idea one might have about the insect, such
as natural (top); startling (middle); or
obscure (bottom).

abstraction
andcomposition
Begining with a photograph of a
beetle, I attempted to abstract its
forms into simpler geometry la
Picassos study of abstracting an
image of a bull. The process attempts
to create a simplified image that
carries the essence of the beetles
qualities with little detail.
I then used these abstractions as the
basis of three compositions using
only typographic elements. These
compositions were meant to carry
more conceptual information about
the process: the first showing the
earthy qualities of the beetle,
the second showing an potential
emotional response to the beetle,
and the third dealing with absolute
minimalism in constructionhow far
can an abstraction go?

opposite: gradual abstraction of the beetles


qualities. The process begins at the top left
and proceeds top to bottom, left to right.

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