A unique aspect of our practice is that many of the staff are also part-time faculty members at area colleges and universities. This combination of academics and professional practice often feed one another in a positive way – teaching generates an energy and enthusiasm that can sometimes be lost in the ‘noise’ of a real project, while consideration for code requirements and constructability can really help shape and improve student work.
This fall, my sophomore studio at Northeastern was given a particularly difficult problem. They were asked to design an athletic facility with three large rectangular pools and support spaces on a triangular site in Chinatown. A minimum of one third of the site had to be retained as open public space. The primary challenge was that the pools could not all fit at grade; therefore at least one pool had to be depressed below grade or elevated above it. Depressing the pools would require extensive alteration of the groundscape, while elevating them would require significant structural consideration due to the weight of water and required clear spans.
Below are three very different solutions that successfully addressed these issues:
Jack placed the building mass in the northwest corner of the site leaving the exterior public space to the south. The pools were placed along the north edge, while an open, tiered, sculptural form was used for the remaining program like the fitness areas. The main public stair negotiated the two space types with the yoga studio acting as the terminus framing a view of the Back Bay.
Sarah’s approach placed the building at the southern edge of the site, with the main public circulation hugging the curved edge, and acting as a buffer from the adjacent Mass Turnpike. The occupiable program is then located along the north edge and is free to engage and activate the exterior public space as needed.
Luke’s approach was unique in that he considered the exterior public space as an elevated condition above the majority of the building program. This allowed him to use more of the site footprint but also drove a series of program locations based on daylighting and activation of the exterior space. The elevated and fully glazed multipurpose space is a one example.
Ryan Senkier, Associate