How can building enclosure actively engage program and site to realize performative architecture? A building's envelope can begin to inform and reveal programmatic configurations and interior conditions, signal public and private circulation, and remain sensitive to the site as well as re-contextualizing program types across it. The objective of the project for this third-level undergraduate studio was to analyze a particular site in Seattle on the Elliot Bay waterfront according to relationships of grade-change, mixed program, and the climate of the Pacific Northwest. The program for the Vertical Port consists of a boating club containing a shop with a deck, training area, offices, and locker rooms, as well as five units of residential housing with a promenade deck, elevated garden, and a laundry room.

Tryptic strips investigating Seattle/Elliott Bay conditions as they relate to the site, from top to bottom: climatic, cultural, and spatial.

Program precedent study, cross & longitudinal sections, examining the relationships between architecture and nautical site—Embarcación Amereida, Escuela de Arquitectura y Diseño, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso, Chile.

1/8"=1' Studio Site Model showing the complex contextual conditions of the site from city to bay, including a 16' grade change.

Interstitial and tensional qualities of the city of Seattle reintroduce themselves as nuances within the site through planar shift and volumetric carving. These spatial shifts and overlaps create an opportunity for the threshold to become a framed view. The frames reveal themselves not all at once, but gradually along the program, unfolding and unpacking across the site from the urban cityscape down onto the water. This congruency strengthens the link between the bay and its city. The two program types—nautical and residential—cooperate to create an interlock of systems.

1/16"=1' Conceptual Composite Sections, longitudinal & cross, showing mass-void relationships, site forces, regulating lines, identified territories, and articulated thresholds. Image composed of site context section, study model, conceptual model, and layered diagrammatic schema.

Exploded Axonometric showing residential unit configuration. Each unit is a double-story living space between 985 and 1065 square feet.

1/4"=1' Building Enclosure Sectional Model, showing materiality and relationships between building enclosure and programmatic configuration.

The skin of the project consists of two variations of a double-wall envelope system. One system is a double-glazed wall, made up of a two-panel unit with integrated translucent insulation facing the exterior and a single frosted panel facing the interior. The effect of the skin in this instance is one of light diffusion from within the envelope itself, providing both artificial lighting for the interior program as well as an illumination to the exterior. The second system is a perforated copper panel system that is separated from the surface that it shields, glazing in the case of the model shown. The perforated screen envelope in this case becomes less about lighting and more about privacy and program differentiation. Over time, the copper panels will patina, showing physical evidence of the waterfront on the site.

1/2"=1' Structural Model, showing the dual double-wall enclosure system as it relates to the structural system.

The two different skins begin to define program and threshold conditions, imperative to understanding the configuration of spaces on and within the site. The use of a double-skin envelope places emphasis on the airspace itself—in the case of the perforated screen the airspace is exterior, with the screen providing both a safeguard from the elements as well as a privacy fence from the public eye. Then the airspace is flipped—within the double-glazed wall, the interstitial space becomes an interior vacuum housing central building and climate control systems. The duality of the role of the airspace speaks back to the larger concept, creating an interlocking system of systems.

1/8"=1' Concept Model

1/8"=1' Concept Model situated in the studio site model.

Hybrid perspective drawings, composed of photographs of concept model and pen/marker sketch overlays.

This project was completed under the instruction of Victoria McReynolds at the College of Architecture at Texas Tech University.
Fabrication of the studio site model and supplemental studio elements by Almaguer, Ammons, Bradshaw, Evans, Garcia, Iglesias, Jia, Pacheco, Pellacani, Serna, Sprinkle, Swetman, Taylor, and Walker. All other work and images produced by Andrew Pacheco.
All images are owned and retained by McReynolds, Pacheco, and the Texas Tech University College of Architecture.
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