At first, it was a only a whim: What if, Yolande Daniels wondered, the weekly challenge format of TV shows like Top Chef and Project Runway could be adapted for architectural design? The more she thought about it, the more it made sense, and the result is an advanced studio led by Daniels (shown right, in center of photo) at Columbia University, where she is an assistant professor of architecture.
Runaway: 13 weeks/challenges/critiques=13 ways to probe architecture, now in its second season—oops, semester—poses a different design challenge for its student “contestants” every week. “There's a combination of theoretical projects and practical projects,” says Daniels, citing the challenges of the three previous weeks: to design a house with resale value, to design an irreducible component for that house, and to develop a series of advertisements for architecture. (In the last competition, one student took the instantly recognizable Pac-Man screen and redrew it in the shape of the Empire State Building).
When ARCHITECT visited Daniels' studio in early October, her seven students were immersed in the fourth challenge: Redesign/brand the outdoor grill/beverage/dessert bar at Pier I in Riverside Park South. The bar in question is a summer cabana located under Manhattan's West Side Highway on parkland overlooking the Hudson River. Daniels asked her students to visit the site and to design, in place of the cabana, a flexible, “nomadic” bar that could engage park users year-round but still respond to seasonal fluctuations in traffic. Two schemes were later selected as the winners by critic Ben Krone of New York's SHoP Architects.
Credit: Matthew Monteith
Prae Lorvidhaya A former jewelry designer hailing from Thailand who is studying for a Master of Science in Advanced Architectural Design (AAD), Lorvidhaya envisages the "nomadic bar" as a set of platforms hung from pulleys below the West Side Highway (see rendering at left and model above). A truck would drive onto the bottom platform to form the main bar/kitchen area, and smaller seating or bar areas would be suspended above. In slow seasons, the truck would drive away, and the whole structure could be hoisted up and stored under the road. Lorvidhaya's scheme was picked as the overall winner by Ben Krone.
Anond Adrian Arunsmith
Credit: Matthew Monteith
Anond Adrian Arunsmith; To maximize the project's access to the river, Arunsmith designed it as a floating bar on the Hudson, with the kitchen and services in the "hull" so that patrons (and passersby) can enjoy an unobstructed vista of the river and the George Washington Bridge. A hinged, rotating roof (see rendering at left) could be adjusted according to sunlight and weather conditions, and the whole structure would be modular. For Arunsmith, an AAD student who previously worked and studied in Bangkok, this challenge was the first in which "I got really physical, because there's a real site."
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