[RISD Fall 2011- ARCH2108]

Urban Design Principles
Infrastructure and Scale. Site Analysis. Elder-Dorm-Hotel Project. Providence, RI.

Program Description as given by the RISD Architecture Department,
urban design principles:

The program proposes additional residential occupancy to complement the new academic and research life of the Jewelry District in Providence, Rhode Island. Housing already exists in the district including some student housing for J&W University. Additional dorm-type housing for the Medical students would be convenient for both the Medical School and the adjacent hospital complex. A small hotel would provide overnight accommodation for visiting scholars and professionals, and an elder housing component provides a link for retirees to both the academic
community and the downtown.

Three simple types of residential occupancies are proposed as extensions of the life of the medical school: 1. single room, short term occupancy (hotel); 2. longer-period residencies (student housing); and, 3. extended-term living (elderly housing). Each is to have its own identity, yet all must be a part of the whole, finding a life together while establishing a relationship to the life of the Brown Medical campus, the adjacent mixed-use life Jewelry District, and the historic Down City core to the north.

I began by making spontaneous actions through drawing and modeling, thinking about the site. And wrapping became a repetitive and an interesting thought. So I continued to model by wrapping. I realized certain habits, or structures from this: when a thin material is going round and around a solid material, like these chunks of wood. There is something about directionality, thickness, hierarchy, and space in the models, and these same things I applied to thinking about a group of buildings together.

[proposal of The ElderDorm and Hotel Project]

The home for the elderly wraps around the dormitory, and in a way they are embracing or protecting each other. And each has its own outdoor grounds. The students of the dormitory have a private outdoor space, hugged in-between this wrapping. And here is where most of the dormitory programs take place in an underground movie theatre, laundry room, computer rooms, study rooms. And since the habits of the elderly are more social, they have a sunken ground space that is open to the public, and houses a little play theatre that is part of the University—a place for the mingling of students and elderly.

The theatre becomes a central theme in the project, in the way that it is a place of telling stories of different lives. In a block with a hotel, a dormitory, and elderly housing, the theatre is a connecting thread. The hotel has a sunken outdoor ground that is more public, creating a pathway through from Richmond street to the Research laboratories on Elbow street. This theatre utilizes the outside street as its moving screen. From an opening between the lobby and the restaurant, pedestrianswalking along Ship street, have a screen view of the inhabitants of the block.

The entrances into the site are pinched and then open up, treating this sudden opening as a secondary living room. The same happens inside the buildings. In the elder-dorm, there are corridors opening up into shared living rooms, shared kitchens, and sliding doors that allow private rooms to suddenly become a part of the corridor. In the plan of the first floor eating corridor, the walls of each room fold out to create enclosed rooms, one long dining room with a hundred foot shared table, or semi private dining spaces.

At the end of this corridor, the floor begins to ramp up, and private rooms begin. The sloping of the ramp allows a space for a bathtub to be sunken so that an elderly person can descend into the bath. There are sliding walls that allow the space to be changing. This inner door blocks the dweller from view when the front door is open, but may become a bathroom partition when the room is private again. The outer door runs along both its own track and the track of its neighbor.

All bathrooms in each building are oriented with a sense of wrapping, and cizculating around and through. The sink mirror always faces into the room, so you are looking into, and not at a wall.