Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Studio Final Presentation & Reflections

At the final review on Wednesday, I was not really critiqued on my work, but asked questions like "what did you learn from taking this studio?" and "how is your perception of your project different than from when you started?" I think that I have really refined my process and my approach to designing a project from working through this studio. By starting very conceptually, I was able to not focus too much on the specifics in the beginning but rather think of everything as a conceptual whole and develop all of the spaces at the same rate. Between the midterm and final review, I was able to get much more specific with my design decisions and apply my concept into the details, such as the textured surface on the lowered ceiling in the pharmacy and on bike shop wall, or the hand-crank bike pulley system, and even the color scheme. As the semester progressed, I went from having a very general idea of where I might want things to be to concrete locations, dimensions, and aesthetics for each of my spaces. This is by far the largest project I have worked on so far, comprising two commercial spaces and five apartments, and through the semester I learned how to develop everything to the level I was expected to despite the size of the project. During the presentation on First Friday I was able to show off my work to friends and the general public who weren't familiar with the project, and they all seemed very impressed with the amount of work our class had done. I am very glad I took this studio because I not only learned about historic preservation and designing old buildings, but I learned how to be a better designer all around by refining my process.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sound Paper

Growing up in a church that was similar in architecture and volume to a small cathedral, I could relate to much of what Rasmussen was discussing in “Hearing Architecture”.  Although it was not quite so large and domed that the minister had to sing or talk rhythmically to address the congregation, the large vaulted ceiling of the church caused much reverberation so that when the choir sang there was a beautiful, ethereal quality to their voices. This made the experience of attending church seem more heavenly and sacred, and the large volume of the sanctuary which caused such an acoustical quality created a grand kinesthetic experience of all its own. This was definitely an example of how one can “Hear Architecture”. The acoustic quality of the church service was directly affected by the high vaulted ceilings -- a purposeful decision made by the architect to create an grandiose and heavenly sound experience that reflected the sacred meanings of the hymns the choir was singing.  After attending other churches, I missed the beautiful sounds that reverberated in the sanctuary.  Unfortunately this tonal quality cannot be replicated unless the correct architecture is in place to cause it, which is rare in the more modern churches of today.
            Another experience that I am familiar with along with most other people is the change in sound quality when in a bathroom covered in sound reflecting tile. Singing in the shower can make the tone anyone’s voice sound better, especially when singing long vowel sounds, due to reverberation.  As a chorus member throughout high school, I would always rehearse songs in the shower because of the rich tone it would give my voice due to the reflective tile.  Many other people sing in the shower for this reason. Bathrooms generally don’t have absorptive materials in them so nothing hampers the sound’s ability to bounce off of the tile surfaces and cause a slight echo.  Bathrooms with higher ceilings enhance this effect, but can almost hinder the ability to understand someone if you are talking to them because the words you say take so long to bounce back to you and run together if you are talking at a normal speed.  People generally do not have long conversations in the bathroom, but I have been on the phone with people who are standing in a bathroom and it is very hard to hear due to the high level of reverberation. This is why in environments such as living rooms, restaurants, and offices where people will be holding long conversations, good acoustic quality and absorptive materials are crucial to one’s ability to understand speech.  Dining in restaurants with little to no absorptive materials, such as East Coast Wings on Tate Street, can be very frustrating because you cannot hear the person you are talking to over the din of other people’s conversations bouncing off of the walls. 
            Sound quality is very important to the experience of a space. It can either cause the experience to be pleasant, such as a reverberant cathedral, or unpleasant, such as a noisy restaurant. It is up to the designer to ensure that the acoustics in a space matches the needs of the user. 

Lighting Tradeshow

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Sound Sketch Series

I examined the 3rd floor of the studio for my sound sketch. The materials in almost all of the spaces were simply painted gypsum walls, concrete floors, and hard steel and plastic furniture. This gave the sound more reverberation time, and echoed in spaces that were larger and more empty. Two exceptions to this were the library and computer lab which have carpeted floors and upholstered furniture. This greatly reduced sound in decibels as well as reverberation time. You can see a significant difference in all of the diagrams between the library/computer lab and the rest of the studio spaces. There is also a notable difference between times of the day, due to studio classes. You can see that at 11 am on a Monday, the studio spaces are fairly loud due to morning studio classes occupying the space. The decibel level increases around 4 pm when the afternoon studios are in the space as well, and students are hanging around to get work down in the afternoon. Noise levels greatly diminish at night when classes have left and only a few students are in the building to work. 

Sound greatly impacts interior design and our experiences in a space. The desired acoustical environment determines what materials shall be put in a space, such as carpeting and upholstered furniture in the library, as well as the shape and volume of the space itself.  Lowered ceilings in the library, conference room, and computer lab make sense because these spaces are desired to be quieter than studio spaces which are more collaborative. Sound can impact design decisions such as the inclusion and placement of acoustical panels, wall thickness, and insulation. Sound also influences your perception of privacy in a space- spaces tend to feel more private if they are quieter. This is why it is good to have different acoustical spaces in the studio to accommodate collaborative vs. independent work. 

Sound Levels- 11 am Monday

Sound Levels- 4 pm Monday

Sound Levels- 9:30 pm Wednesday

Basement & Exterior: Studio Phase VI Deliverables

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Midterm Review 10/9/13 - Feedback

During the midterm review today, I got a lot of helpful and specific feedback on how to move my design forward and create a more functional space.

Dabney Sanders from Action Greensboro on the Greenway liked my idea for shared apartment storage on the 3rd floor of the building,  and encouraged me to provide a communal space for the apartments, which I plan to provide with a roof terrace. She noticed one window in the pharmacy retail space that I plan to fix.

Jo gave me lots of helpful feedback for specific things in my design. She suggested that I add more character and details from my concept to the bike racks on the wall, as well as incorporating some of these details in the lowered ceiling above the pharmacy counter. The lowered area over the pharmacy could also be used for signage or an interesting statement feature. Jo noted that the pharmacy counter needs to be raised to provide a more comfortable height for pharmacists as well as for privacy. The pharmacy counter also needs more of a kick space below. She also said that I need to accentuate the cash wrap in the bike shop more, and lighting will certainly help with that. She spotted door swings that were going the wrong way in my basement egress that I will fix. Jo also noticed that the wood flooring planks were too large in my drawings, which I will scale down for the next deliverables.

I spoke to both Robert Cudd and Todd from the City of Greensboro's inspections department about my plans. They both thought that my stairs, layout, plumbing, and mechanical worked well and that was accessible. Robert told me to think about the material that I will use for the roof in the storage and terrace area as to not be a safety hazard for tripping. He also told me to double check that my apartments meet the maximum travel distance to an exit.

Jerry Leimenstoll encouraged me to think more about how I will use lighting to highlight specific objects in my spaces. He told me to highlight the bikes that I am trying to display while minimizing the overall ambient light to give a more dramatic effect. He told me to go to The Fresh Market in Greensboro to look at the strategies that they use to light items in the space. I also talked to him about the location of my new pulley system in the bike shop for lowering bikes to the basement. He told me to think more about the sense of entry when a user comes into the space and where the ideal location would be to make it accessible to both entrances without being a safety hazard.

Grad student Lauren Postlmayr also gave me some great solutions to floor plan issues. She told me to make the bike shop office smaller so that the area behind the cash wrap can be used for display or another function. She also told me to reduce the length of my shelving in the pharmacy so that it is not directly behind the lunch counter area. This way I could add a table and chairs to the lunch counter area to provide additional seating besides at the counter. Lauren suggested sliding doors for the apartment closets to save space. She also told me to push furniture in the apartments more towards the walls because there is not an adequate path to the windows. She also noted some door locations that needed to be changed a bit to make more usable space.

Peer Reviews:

Chelsea Epes told me that I should poche my section perspective the same color that I poched my floor plans in, which I think would give the presentation a more cohesive look. She also told me to label the rooms in my floor plans which would be helpful to those reading my board.

Anna Hambly enjoyed my bike racks in the bike shop as well as the angled pharmacy counter. She thought that they related well to my concept. She would like to see more detailed views of how they work. She noticed a few corrections on my floor plans such as walls that I need to poche and door swing corrections.

Matt Weikert indicated that I should develop the idea of having communal space on the roof and suggested that I have circulation leading through the storage area. He also threw out the idea of continuing the elevator up to the third floor to give accessibility to the roof and 3rd floor apartment.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Sketch Series 4

Illuminance level was taken at a 36" high desk.  Reflectance was measured using an aluminum sheet, and transmittance was measured by the light source passing through paper. 

Sketch Series 3

                                   Fabric 1          Fabric 2          Fabric 3         Fabric 4

I was very surprised at the extent of the color variation of the fabrics under different light sources. The colors of the material varied significantly from light source to light source. You can see how dramatic the changes in color are yourself by looking at each of the columns above and realizing that each column is the same fabric and color in reality. One fabric can range from green to gray to yellow or orange depending on the light source. Overall the colors seemed the most "true" under 5 pm natural daylight- which is the optimal color rendering quality. Colors seemed very red under halogen lights, somewhat orange under fluorescent light, greenish under metal halide lamps, and bluish under LEDs. This shows what hue of light each of the lamps emit. The colors even varied over different times of day in natural daylight, from grayer in the morning to brighter and warmer in the late afternoon. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Sketch Series 2

My first sketch was taken from Kiosco Mexican Grill on Spring Garden Street. Kiosco used incandescent lighting via recessed lamps to achieve strong ambient lighting as well as incandescent pendant lighting for task lighting at the bar. Overall, the lighting was fairly strong and glary, and the amount of lighting was a bit overwhelming for the space. I believe the restaurant could achieve a much more pleasant and intimate atmosphere by scaling back the number of lights or dimming the lights to make them less harsh. Subtle lighting came from two TVs, which did not provide significant lighting or obstruct the existing lighting scheme. Lighting was fairly even across this portion of the restaurant, and strong shadows were cast throughout from furniture and some shelving. Patterns of light could be more effective by again scaling back the number of lamps and concentrating more on lighting specific areas such as individual tables. This atmosphere serves waiters and staff well because the bar and circulation paths are lit very brightly, but the experience for diners could be improved with softer, more intimate lighting in the dining areas. 

My next sketch was from the Barnes & Noble bookstore at UNCG. Most of the lighting in this particular area came from bright natural light from windows to the outside. Bright afternoon light came flooding into the space and blanketed the books and shelving. There were areas that had a certain amount of glare due to more reflective materials. Overhead fluorescent lighting constituted the secondary source of light and main artificial light in the space. This lighting was staggered and evenly distributed throughout the store. This made a big difference towards the back of the store where natural light was not as abundant, and did a good job of illuminating the merchandise without causing glare. More subtle illumination came from recessed halogen lights in small built-in shelving areas around the perimeter of the store These were effective in highlighting posters and books that were being promoted by Barnes & Noble. The lighting in the space, especially the natural light, caused dramatic light and shadow patterns in the edge of the store and created a bright and interesting space to browse in. Glare could be minimized in a few areas by using less reflective materials. Overall, the space is effective for reading and shopping, and provides a connection to the outside that doubles as a way to entice potential shoppers to come into the store. 

My last sketch was in the Weatherspoon Art Museum at UNCG. This space is very dramatically illuminated by a large clerestory many feet above the main open gallery area. Natural light floods into the space and illuminates the artwork and creates interesting shadows under the curved portion of the ceiling. Secondary lighting comes from recessed halogen lights in a corridor that leads to other galleries. This lighting is effective because it does not distract from the dramatic natural lighting effect, yet provides adequate lighting to travel along the corridor. More patterns of light and shadow could be introduced in the corridor to mirror the large clerestory in the main space. More subtle light comes in through the doors that lead to the outdoor courtyard, and inform the visitor that there is more to the museum outside. A highly polished concrete floor reflects the artwork displayed but does not cause glare due to natural light being used to light the space from a distance. This is a nice alternative to artificial gallery lights which may distort the colors in the paintings, and gives the visitor substantial yet unobstructive light by which to view the artwork. 

Monday, September 30, 2013

Sketch Series 1

For this assignment, I worked with Alex Pokas to find spaces on campus that felt spacious, relaxed, had perceptual clarity, and one particular space that felt unpleasant. We chose to sketch the Meditation room, room 401 in the Gatewood Studio, the lobby of the Weatherspoon Art Museum, and a floor of the library stacks. 

Meditation room sketch by Monica Browning

Floor Plan Sketch 

The Meditation Room was an example of what we felt was relaxed. This space has both overhead and peripheral lighting, somewhat non-uniform, in between bright and dim, and uses warm lighting. I believe that the diffused natural light contributes to making the space feel relaxed and peaceful. The center of the room had and overall warm feel due to warm recessed lights overhead as well as warm track lighting that highlighted the textured walls. The three different types of lighting in the space were in three different areas to create different zones. While the area by the window is very bright due to lots of natural light, the center of the room is more dim and feels very calm. The back of the meditation room is concealed by panels that block most of the light and make it very dark. This accommodates the prayer and meditation preferences of different people. Aside from designating different areas in the space, the different types of lighting add interest to the room, as well as highlight features such as art on the wall. 

401 Critique room sketch by Monica Browning

Floor Plan Sketch

The critique room is a space that we believed had perceptual clarity. The main light source in this room comes from a diffused skylight in the roof above, and spills through the opening in the ceiling of the room. A retractable shade is shading half of the space in this sketch, but can be opened fully to make the space very bright. While most lighting comes from above, there are track lights that span the walls that light student work during some presentations. In this particular sketch, the track lighting was turned off and the space was still very bright and clear. The particular ceiling filters in cooler hues of light, which aid in the clarity of the space. The uniformity of lighting can be changed with the moving of the shade, to create a fully washed space or a half-dimmed space. This can help when viewing digital presentations in the front half of the room. 

Weatherspoon Art Museum sketch by Alex Pokas

Section Elevation

The Weatherspoon Art Museum lobby is an example of a space that feels very large and spacious. Most of the light in this space comes in through a large clerestory above that channels the light downward in a large oval light well. Recessed lights line the corridor to the left of the lobby that leads to galleries and provides some light in the space. Some natural light also comes in through doors that lead to a vestibule and an outdoor courtyard. These secondary lighting elements are somewhat masked, however, by the large open space above letting in copious natural light. The overall hue is somewhat in between warm and cool and is very bright. The lighting is mostly uniform and almost exclusively overhead. The lack of significant furniture in the space also adds to the feeling of spaciousness.
Library sketch by Alex Pokas

Section Elevation

The library interior was an example of a space that feels unpleasant. Aside from the natural lighting coming through windows as seen in this sketch, the majority of lighting in the library comes from overhead fluorescent lighting. This leads to a very bland and unpleasant atmosphere. The lighting in the library is fairly uniform, with the fluorescent lights spaced on a grid overhead. The interior is fairly bright to be suitable for reading, and uses cooler light. Overall the space is very boring and uninteresting, with limited natural light. The few windows provide brief visual relief with a view to the outside, but most lighting in the space is generic and not very aesthetically pleasing. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Light Box

Exterior Shot

Interior view of panels

Angled Interior View

 Lower Interior View showing diffused lighting in corners