Constructed Landscapes: An Aquarium for Puerto Rico / A Collaborative Studio with the University of Puerto Rico

An Aquarium for Puerto Ricosite:Located between a private airport and the new Convention Center for the city of San Juan, the site is a contested edge, a myriad of spatial, programmatic, and cultural conditions. Being located both at center and edge of the city, in close proximity to the water and a main highway, amidst a new residential neighborhood and tourist center, the site negotiates dichotomies of inside and outside, private and public, local and global, urban and natural. Issues of threshold, unfolding, joining, weaving, separating and dissonance will be explored at both the level of site planning and construction intentions:In an effort to bring the larger ideas of the project into all realms and scales of design thinking, students will develop a site strategy and a building that is conceptualized to the level of construction detail, materiality and furniture design. The intention is to create a body of design that \”prioritizes the subjective\” by exploring the tectonics and craft of building in a way that supports the direct human experience of the space.Issues of site, dispersal of space, sectional complexity, spatial sequence, mystery, and discovery will be at the core of the studio. The urban strategy as well as issues of civic and private space, subject and place will be addressed with the overall siting strategy.The studio will also explore ways in which a design can exploit, register and reveal natural processes and phenomena in order to expand the sculptural and spatial into the temporal. The complex dynamics of the Aquarium program, as a constructed landscape, will be studied as related to the phenomenological aspects of the experience: light, shadow, wind and water, the relationship to the ground plane, and the sensorial aspects of materiality, place and promenade will be explored to enhance the experience of the phenomena of the site and the temporal events offered by a particular place.program:The building program will include habitats, curatorial and life support exhibit areas, lobby, restaurant, auditorium, gift shop, administration space, education and research space, marine scientist housing, and service areas. Total program area = 80,000 to 100,000 sq. feet.process:Building design and development throughout the semester, with the following exercises interspersed:-Precedent study: to open the studio to an increased level of discussion and shared knowledge.-Site analysis: to provide collective and individual understandings of the place, from which concepts and designs emerge.-Wall section development: to explore the materiality of the project and the relationship of inside to outside.-Spatial and perspectival studies: to place direct human experience at the center of the project\’s site and building strategy.-Furniture design: to transform the larger ideas of the site strategy and building strategy to a scale that is in direct relationship to the human body.