Final Assignment: the Dance Academy

promptly after the conclusion of the midterm, we were tasked with designing a dance studio/academy in a lot that was 25 feet by 100 feet by 60 feet. In addition to this, the location of this lot would be directly next to the Highline, an area within NYC that attracts much attention. This aspect added another layer of complexity to this assignment as the building would be often be seen by individuals passing by on the Highline, which allows for an opportunity for interaction or intent to engage with these individuals.

Since this was going to be a dance studio, I knew from the start that I wanted it to have a modern angle to it. The Highline, and the area surrounding it, is no stranger to modern architecture. For example Zaha Hadid’s apartment complex resides next to the highline, near the end of the Highline is the Hudson Yard site hosting projects such as Thomas Heatherwick’s “Vessel”. With this in mind I wanted to model the structure around modern dance, and to have it in some way exhibit the movement or core experience of modern dance. When I think of experiential dance, the first thing that comes to mind is contortionist dancing.

So I decided the first step would be to identify the form I would take influence from. To establish this I took still frames from a contortionist performance and drew them from observation.

Within this movement I looked for something I could translate into a structure. This proved to be difficult as I had to establish a language that would exhibit this motion without following this form too literally.

With this sketch model I figured out that I wanted to represent the dancer’s movements in a sequence:

With this I began diagram this movement.

I originally had something organic in mind, I however was not entirely married to this idea.

This geometrical form then generated this sketch model:

With these forms in mind, I began diagramming again:

I wanted to figure out how I would enclose this structure, through a sketch model I decided to attach each endpoint with a line in a sort of Rem Koolhaas fashion:

This would be the form I decide to continue this design process with. Now it was a matter of defining floor plates and where program would be situated.

These flaws were satiated by creating 1/16″ circulation models:

With these floorplates established, I was then tasked with drawing plans and sections of this structure.

The whole organization of the floorplates was meant to progressively accommodate dancers as an individual travels into the upper levels. the structure seems to lean away from its foundation, each floorplate being slightly taller than the last, almost as if it were taking off. This feeling of weightlessness was meant to encourage the practice of dance in the upper levels as the freeing airy atmosphere would be complemented with a high altitude point of view of the Highline from the windows. This is the most exemplary on the sixth floor studio space, acting as the peak of the whole structure. The ground levels serve as a quick space to access for the public to view performances, the first couple of levels serve as the classrooms and lounge, all surrounding a “volume” near the staircase. This void is meant to shift the eye upwards, wordlessly encouraging the dancer to progress toward the interior’s peak. Essentially my structure is meant for the practitioners of dance instead of the people that wish to view dance. However it is not meant to entirely exclude these viewers, its a bit of a tangent but above the auditorium is a ring, or an oculus, that  frames the upper levels, serving as a way to inspire a viewer that is debating the possibility of joining this practice. This experience is documented in this interior perspective:

After deciding on the interior organization within this geometry, I also had to decide what the structures “skin” would be, or what it would be enclosed by:

Resulting in a facade that looks like this.

After diagramming and representing this structure, it was time to create a final 1/8″ scale model:



Midterm Assignment

Part 1: Finding the components and their orientation

With assignment 3 finished, we were introduced to the beginning of our midterm assignment, starting with the task of identifying 3 components and what they’ll be arranged into.

Originally the component I wanted to pursue was a sort of “A” shape

However, I figured it would be too complicated to fabricate 24 times, as the assignment called for 3 types of components, 8 of each. So I simplified the shapes down to a simple “V” shape.

Along with this decision, I was beginning to form an idea of how I’d arrange these components , the first idea was to have them “sweep” along the ground plane, gradually sinking lower into it.















Eventually this new orientation resulted in a horizontal arrangement that still utilized a sequence.

Part 2: incorporating this form into a design

After figuring out what to do with these components, I was tasked with applying this formation to three spaces.

At first I was thinking of creating a public space that uses the spiral to reach into the ground and carve a space underneath.

However this approach lacked a purpose, and the three spaces were unclear. Instead I decided to use this component to indicate an area of circulation that would still establish a surface and subsurface area.

With this in mind I began to conceptualize an auditorium.

I eventually decided to simplify the design of the auditorium:

With this concept came the model of the spaces:


Plans and Sections

Assignment 3: enclosed spaces

Going along with the concept established in assignment 2, I wanted to explore the concept of nested geometry in a way that was not present in my previous model. This time I figured it would be more interesting if the nested geometry was for the most part hidden, aside from a single view in the model. This could be achieved in assignment 3 because the composition in mind was whole to part.

One major decision in the design process was how visible the subtracted space will be, as well as how much of the cube will be “filled”.















What resulted was this model:

This view is the crucial moment of the model


Assignment 2: Planes

After building a relief model for assignment 1, I wanted to pursue a form with clear intention from the start rather than finding intent later on in the design process. This being said, assignment 2 tasked us with exploring the spatial relationships that can be established through differences in planes. I wanted to continue exploring the creation of voids seen in assignment 1, but less obviously and in a more implied manner.

Since the confines of the assignment were initially 12in x 12in x 12in, I wanted to use cubic elements in the design, which can be seen in this sketch;

Since this assignment was largely part to whole in composition, I wanted use shapes that are “cut-short” in areas to imply that there was a nested cube within their volumes.

The 12×12 result;

The second phase tasked us with downsizing this form into a 6 x 6 x 6 cube, which allowed me to create a planar difference in the areas “touched” by this nested geometry using a darker shade of paper;

Plans and elevations;

The hatched areas being the areas where there’s dark paper.



Assignment 1: Relief model

At the start of the semester, we were tasked with drawing grids and shapes over 12 pieces of vellum.

Starting with grid lines such as this, I created shapes by connecting the endpoints of certain lines.

With this process, I would end up with shape clusters such as this. To address their overlap, I decided I would create fainter lines to give of the appearance of depth.

One major problem with these drawings was a lack of control and more importantly, a lack of direction.

After we created these shapes, the assignment then shifted to the creation of a relief model made from basswood sticks.

This was my first attempt;

One clear problem with this iteration was the lack of substance and the overuse of ornamentation. The varying thickness of stripes and interlacing elements don’t really express an idea or discipline.

With this in mind, I stripped the model of it’s unnecessary elements in order to find it’s basic form, and the core of the structures concept.  This concept was narrowed down to “Intersection”, as the drawings in the first part of the assignment focused on the relationship between intersecting shapes.