Courtyard Cathedral

Massachusetts Institute of Technology 2012

JUROR COMMENTS   This scheme begins to employ innovative methods of assembling timber and generate ideas of how the project would actually be constructed, for instance, the use of cross laments timber (CLT) and the glulams on each floor are sensible. This design explores a vertical detail with critical junctions and creates a more celebratory space. It is a more daring scheme with the form partially arrived at by the influence of the timber material. The project envisions the future density of the neighborhood while referencing the scale and proportion of the former big, bulky industrial buildings around the site. Also, the project shows a clear attention to detail and acoustical design. Overall, the concept and strategies hold up, however there is room to build upon the project’s potential. The design could be manipulated to produce more variety and more cores of service and circulation. There are opportunities to refine the structural concept, and each building could be sucked in and shrunk down to solve some code issues and improve the quality of space.

DESCRIPTION   The Courtyard Cathedral project nests three vaulting roof structures that contain a bike share and shop, wood production and digital fabrication facilities into the courtyards of surrounding apartment blocks. This organization is the basis for the project's urban diagram, structural strategy and tactical invention from the organization of apartments to the scale of detail.

Cross Laminated Timber Panels and Glulam members are deployed by this project to create two distinct structural systems. The perimeter rings of apartments are constructed of CLT box beams. These elements are utilized for vertical walls, floors and shear wall applications. They are fabricated from 2 layers of 3 ply CLT spaced apart by a service chase. The vaulting span of the courtyard is designed as a 2 way structural coffer that is buttressed by the mass of the CLT perimeter. 

The exterior of the project is clad with a glulam-structured double skin facade. A single pane exterior of glass serves as a weatherproof membrane that protects the wooden structure within. SIP infill panels and insulated glazing units are located inboard of the glass and create the thermal division between inside and out.

The programs of the Courtyard Cathedral are coordinated by the two structural systems. The CLT perimeter is set on a short-span 22-foot structural grid. Bays contain the offices and gallery spaces of the wood manufacturing, bike share and digital fabrication facilities at ground level and first floor. Above, a modular apartment strategy anticipates changing market conditions in an evolving Brooklyn. A single bay fulfills the spatial requirements for a circulation pathway and a 350 square foot apartment. Larger apartment units are created by combining bays. The vaulting roof meets the demand for an open and flexible free floor plan in the workshop spaces.

The project is sited along Van Dyke street in order to cultivate more dense commercial and pedestrian activity along this corridor. Subdivisions between the buildings create pathways that connect the project to the waterfront to the south. A service corridor parallels Van Dyke Street. Parking is sited below. An earthen storm break is located on the south side of the project. This earthwork creates an elevated park that augments the green spaces of adjacent parcels. 

Hoods, extending from the vaulted roof, puncture the apartment perimeter. They create a public face and entry point for the institutions within. This feature provides a covered public space and a location for outdoor protected bike storage.

A 3-foot gap between the courtyard and the apartment perimeter facilitates roof drainage and creates a service chase for the mechanical requirements of the production facilities. Circulation and storage amenities are carved into this gap. The space between the two systems is designed to mitigate sound transmission from the production spaces to the surrounding housing and neighborhoods beyond.


The Habitat @ Red Hook

University of Southern California 2010

JUROR COMMENTS   This project is exemplary for its pragmatism, responsibility and sensibility. It is a straightforward and component architectural solution, and not a purely formal response. It is a realistic project that would serve the community well, as it responds extremely well to the need for affordable housing in Brooklyn. This project demonstrates a sophisticated understanding of the mixed-use program, and the scheme responds well to the site, the street, and solar orientation. The sun shading strategy is well done, as it allows sun to stream into the building on the northern edge of the site. However, this project does not push the envelope in terms of timber construction building codes. There are missed opportunities to use timber for long spans, but overall the design is a solid, workable timber solution and extremely believable.

DESCRIPTION   Set along the waterfront of Brooklyn’s Red Hook neighborhood, The Habitat provides a dynamic new mixed-use complex that will revive the area by activating the surrounding community and reinvigorate the manufacturing and housing sector, without compromising the unique identity of the area.  

The Habitat at Red Hook contains 175 studio, one, two, and three bedroom affordable living units over ground floor commercial space aimed at providing new resources for residents and the neighborhood. Each prefabricated unit is constructed on a 12.5’ x 25’ module that is assembled on site in the wood and digital fabrication shops on the ground floor. Structural insulated panels (SIP’s) form the walls of the units, which cut down on fabrication time and offers thermal and acoustical insulation. 

The prefabricated units are transported from the shop to the loading dock and hoisted into place by a crane. Glue laminated beams form a wood pedestal above the ground floor which supports the load of the units above. Assembling every unit on site saves time and money, reduces construction waste, and cuts down on carbon emissions by eliminating transportation demands. The vertical stair and elevator cores in the project are fabricated from cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels that reduce the weight of the overall structure.

The south facades of The Habitat are fabricated from recycled wood pallets that are normally discarded after being used to transport goods. These pallets form an operable façade, controlled by the residents, to provide each unit with varying degrees of sun shading and privacy throughout the day. 

To maximize the efficiency on site, the wood and digital workshops were combined into a single entity on the ground floor. This allows for job training, education, and manufacturing to take place in one location along Van Dyke Street. The bicycle parking, storage, and workshops are located along Beard Street.

Due to the large programmatic requirements, there was risk of creating a building that overpowered the site and the surrounding low-rise buildings. To mitigate this problem, the massing of the project was divided and split into two “bars”. A four-story and six-story bar contain all 175 residential units. Stepping down the massing of the building to the south permits more natural light to enter the center of the site and the units to the north. An elevated public walkway, and resident gardens, which serve as an extension of the adjacent Red Hook Community Farms, transverse the site from east to west and connect the two bars of housing. 

In 2012, Hurricane Sandy resulted in massive flooding and property damage to the neighborhood of Red Hook. In order to safeguard against future hurricanes and flooding, a conscious decision was made to elevate the wood construction off of the ground and provide concrete construction within the flood plane. Another precaution against future damage is the operable wood pallet screen on the south facing facades of the building, which can be fully close in the event of a storm to prevent against property damage caused by flying debris.