Architectural Design, Level III: A Student Center for MIT

Course Info

Course Number/Code: 4.155B (Fall 2004)
Course Title: Architectural Design, Level III: A Student Center for MIT
Course Level: Graduate
Offered By: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Department: Architecture
Course Instructor(s): Prof. Fernando Domeyko
Course Introduction:

Description of the Project

This studio will investigate the social, programmatic, tectonic and phenomenological performance and character of a student gathering place on the MIT campus. Whether it is simply for socializing or for more specific events, the student gathering place will serve as a refuge from the vigorous educational environment of the Institute, and it will reinforce a critical sense of "place" through the almost logical organization of its program. The place will foster a casual discovery of "being": a reflection upon the student's own existence based upon participation in group events and an intellectual attitude toward acting. To create a space that inspires, rather than imposes: such a discovery is the foremost challenge of this studio.

The issue of "students" is of primary importance. What are they, how do they live, what space do they require and what space do they inspire? The studio will investigate the issues surrounding student life to discover not only their meaning but also how they might impact the building of a student center. Each member of the studio will choose a place on the MIT campus according to individual interest and design criteria. The program will consist of common space, an exhibition hall, a 150-seat auditorium, and café, retail, and other auxiliary facilities. This program is suggested for reference and may be changed according to the specific site chosen.

The spirit of the studio lies in objective observation and subjective interpretation of the various forces within and surrounding the site. The translation of those forces into their tangible vectors, interacting with the architecture, will create such phenomenological experiences as light and shadow, gravity and weightlessness, depth and densities, and space and sound. The design process involves exploring what it means to be paused within movement, silent within noise, private within public. Within this process, the challenge will be to test in an experimental way the interplay of materials, structure, gravity, and light, among others. This constant testing will afford the students an opportunity to work through a process of rediscovery to clarify their concept through the language and poetry of architecture. For a more complete description of this process of the studio, see the assignments section.

Full scale installations, physical models, and interpretive sketches and drawings are regarded as fundamental in the translation of an abstract concept into physical and spatial agendas, and eventually into the making of an actual building. Such design steps will be the emphasis of this studio. It will be through these steps that various interpretations and positions are tested. Model making will serve not as a singular act, but as a reiterative part of this testing, aimed at clarifying the initial concepts.  For a discreet list of the steps, please see the calendar.