From this winter quarter we combined projects to create a testing and research center for textiles. At the Textile Byway, high performance sport textiles are researched, tested, manufactured, and sold.
We were inspired by Auburn University’s Health and Wellness Center by SOM that features one of the nation’s largest indoor running tracks. We were intrigued how a long entity can twist and fold in on itself to intertwine and connect various programs within a reasonably small volume. Second, we were also inspired by the Poetry Foundation by John Ronan Architects in Chicago. Simple, large volumes are carefully interlocked to create beautiful inhabitable interstitial spaces.
The Textile Byway program was broken down into key elements and made into rectilinear volumes. A testing and circulation running track intertwines and interjects through programmatic boxes. The building’s program follows the life-cycle of a garment. Programmatically, the building has a laboratory/studio space, a testing track, micro factory, exhibition center, and retail space.
We consciously chose how the running track travels through various programs. In particular, what connection the path has with the program. Whether the path has physical connection or simply visual connection with each program it touches. At various points of the track a visitor or resident can observe other programs and travel to other programs. This was conveyed into an architectural language depending on if the path was fully enclosed, partially enclosed, or fully open.
On lower levels, the path is open to the public. The public enter the Textile Byway from one of two exits. One exit is located on the city side of the site while another is located on the park side. The testing track becomes private once the public reach the fourth floor and emerge onto a large, open courtyard. At this point, the now private path continues on to puncture studio and research spaces and experiences steeper slopes in order to conduct more intense testing. Throughout the building, the path is both a means of circulation and testing. Rather than autonomous to the rest of the building, the path is a continuation of the floor plates but made separate by the materiality and it’s form.
The path wraps around the building and connects back to itself throughout the program. It is designed to optimize connections through programmatic adjacencies. Two structural cores composed of concrete shear walls support the majority of lateral loads. Gravity loads are supported by a column grid. The path is cantilevered off the column grid the majority of the time. After discussing with Ed and Jeff, the path will primarily be cantilevered. However, at a few instances the path will hang from the ceiling. The floor plate of the cantilever and hung paths can become slender and taper our.
Along the street edge a perforated screen separates the sidewalk and the property line of the building. Inspired by the Poetry Foundation, the screen acts to separate private from public while still leaving transparency to the street. The resultant pathway begins the visitors’ journey into the building and onto the path.
We were reviewed by Clare Olsen, Karen Lange, Tom di Santo, and landscape students. While each group had different concerns and commentary on the project, they did not question the path itself or its use. This is a step up from out previous review in terms of clarification and reasoning behind the path.
Clare Olsen gave us some great feedback on our floor plans and pushed us to answer questions about our path. What is the form? Should the faceting occur throughout the façade, or should the tube become more streamline and elegant. She also encouraged us to plan and program the path, using diagrams. Clare suggested generating diagrams the help us determine the shape, width, and height of the path in each space by determining the experience we desired. Clare also gave us some clarification on the representation of our plans. Moving forward, we need to consider using tones or hatches to differentiate between each floor and split floors.
Karen Lange also continued the commentary on the representation of the floor plans. She argued that the plan becomes lost in the floor plans. When she asked us what was the most important part of the project, we immediately said the path. She encouraged us to celebrate and display the path in the floor plans more clearly. Karen also suggested that we rework or realign our entrances so that the path immediately pulls you up and through the project. Karen also had concerns with the screen we were using, saying that instead of activating the street, we were placing a wall to the edge of the sidewalk. With our boxy form, she also encouraged to maintain the box, and be precise about all the of the moves we make with the path in relation to the box. This may entail us pulling the path deeper into the space or pushing it all the way to the façade edge. No matter what is done, the path should stay consistent in width and shape if that is what we are striving to do.
Tom di Santo had some thoughts about the faceting and formation of the tube. He brought up some safety concerns that we had not considered. He asked if it was possible to make the tube streamline and aerodynamic for testing. He expressed concern for runners and cyclists that could catch the edge of a facet and fall or injure themselves. He also encouraged a redesign of the housing to encourage communal living. Moving forward we would like to revisit our initial idea of dorm/suite style housing with a communal kitchen and common space.
The landscape students really appreciated the incorporation of public courtyards as a way to utilize privately owned public space. They also suggested that the path become enclosed with stretched fabric so it is breathable and we aren’t literally baking people in a glass tube.
The Big Take Aways:
What is the experience of the path? And what is the form of the path? Can the path become a tensile structure composed of stretched fabric? Celebrate the path and do not loose the path in the floor plans. Make the track more aerodynamic and safe for use, and make residential more communal.
During our review with Ed and post review breakdown with Jeff yesterday, we have already made some shifts and changes. We have separated and adjusted our structural cores and, working on structural integration, have determined that the path will primarily be be cantilevered off the columns. In some instances, the path will be suspended and supported by the ceiling. The path becomes almost like a compression ring for the columns.
We are also working to rethink and redesign entrances to the path and building itself to make a larger gesture. We are also reevaluating the exterior of the boxes, exploring the possibilities of faceting the façade to differentiate between a smooth and aerodynamic path and the box forms. We also need to determine the feeling of the path: will it be light and airy? Or dark and massive? How does the path open up into the space, blurring the lines between byway and landing. We are considering the use of a fabric for breathable architecture.
Erin + Mackenzie