Urban Hotel

Introduction This studio investigates architecture beginning with the architectural envelope as the intersection of activity and site, an experiential intensity between construction and context. We will explore the potential of a mutual intensification between site and architecture, in which each reveals and amplifies the other. The intensity sought in this investigation lies in the tension between site and architecture. Site research and programmatic research are mined to reveal contradictory, seemingly irresolvable, tensions embedded in the project. We are interested in design strategies that expose, rather than resolve, these points of abrasion between site and architecture. After completing initial research, the conceptualization of site and program will define the enclosure\’s performance. The material assembly will be explored as the intersection of site and habitation. Each student\’s individual preferences, resonances, and experience will guide the selection and research of materials and assemblies. By developing enclosure details, the student will acquire the genetic material to develop and to integrate larger building systems. Because the studio seeks to establish detail and constructional assembly as the conceptual genesis of the architectural proposal, our goal is to complete proposals that address multiple project scales. The studio will engage an urban site in Chicago, a city whose density increases as it meets its boundary along Lake Michigan. This transitional place in the city is at once both constructed and natural. The lake\’s edge has been reconfigured over time as the city engages the natural forces of the lake and responds to internal forces of growth. The immediate relationship between the densely constructed condition of the city and the profoundly vast spatial expanse of the lake provides the larger context for the project. Following the trend to create hotels as civic signatures, our investigation proposes an antidote to the placeless and predictable hotel experience. The hotel is explored as both civic public space and a private refuge. While the resort hotel has traditionally taken advantage of place, the urban hotel conventionally emphasizes refuge and protection from the city, with only a token acknowledgement of place as part of the hotel experience. We propose to create an enclosure condition that offers refuge and intensifies the specific experience of Chicago and its location on the lake. Process The construction of enclosure provides the territory for this architectural exploration beginning with a detailed scale moving through repetition and evolution toward an urban scale. Enclosure is proposed as a point of intense mediation between inhabitation and site. The intersection of habitation, the hotel stay, and the site, lakeside Chicago, generates the performance criteria for the envelope. The hotel will be rethought as a response to a specific site. The investigation will move from research to design conceptualization of site and program. Detailed material assembly studies will form the basis of an exploration at the scale of the building as a whole. Schedule The studio will meet intensively for three days Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday every other week. Group discussions and meetings will be scheduled afternoons with individual and small group sessions in the mornings. Julie Snow will be in Cambridge 1/30-1/31, 2/7-2/9, 3/7-3/9, 3/21-3/23, 4/11-4/13, 4/25-4/27 and 5/9-5/11. In addition, a trip is scheduled for 2/24-2/26, to Chicago. The trip is not a studio requirement. We will meet as a studio in Chicago to visit the site and architectural landmarks.