Tran(section)

This week has been full. Full of reading. Full of preparation.

We have begun our third project. Our project, ‘Tran(section)’, is based on the site in between the Carousel Theater and the Humanities building here at the University of Tennessee. It is a tri-tiered landscape with a major collector sidewalk transecting the site. On site there is a variety of unorganized places and sidewalks.

I am to create a programmatic space that will accommodate:

            *a space for individual students to quietly reflect

            *a space for our studio to interact

            *a space to support a productive student ASLA meeting

Our design is to be influenced by our project two construction/assembly methods.

I am extremely excited about this project, so…here we go.

The most influential piece of reading this week has been Path, Portal, Place by E. White 1999. White does a superb job picking apart the qualities of these three elements of place that are experienced by most.

I am working on my site design with a light hand right now. I do not want to start placing specific pieces or elements just yet. Instead, I am considering the current site as it sits and its unique qualities that it holds as well as its lack of quality. The basic site survey has turned up traffic uses, sun/shade diagrams, as well as many other diagrams. In particular I have noticed that water collects on the lower area and sits, there is a good breeze, and the entire site has no unifying theme or scale. Most important is the fact that the site fails to engage the hundreds of pedestrians that walk through it on a daily basis.

I have observed people sitting in places that aren’t made for sitting while ignoring the provided seating. I have also noticed some walk through the site at a slow pace looking to gain some experience but unable to lock in on some tangible substance. While there are some plantings in the site, they do not develop a theme or make a statement.

At this point I have collected enough info to start developing high-level themes and spaces. I have also began to create small designs that can be placed within the site later. I am beginning to place my portals, paths, and working on developing the place. I know that as soon as I assign locations and objects it will be hard to remove those concepts from my mind’s eye.

Again, overall the site lacks pedestrian engagement. I would like to collect the two areas adjacent the major collector sidewalk together. One side has a few trees and is the lawn for the Carousel Theater and the other lawn has a large tree and a five foot retaining wall that drops down to the next level and overlooks the lower portion of the site.

I would like to collect the two lower portions together into a single level. This level is overpowered by a three story building. The sidewalk that runs parallel to this building creates a service alley like feel, which is uncomfortable and too large for this area. I plan to de-emphasize this walk and collect the remaining space into a single area. In my overall design so far I have strongly considered the portals that connect this site into the larger picture of the campus, its buildings, and pedestrian traffic.

I have developed these ideas a bit. However, I still feel there is more high level info that will positively inform my design.

That’s it for now. Check back at the end of the week for some developed design concepts.